The $40,000 fine dished out to rugby player Quade Cooper for calling the Wallabies setup “toxic” is a huge penalty. It really is a massive slug for what was essentially a thought crime.

This man is so clever, his player number is in binary

Wayne Carey was never fined $40k for screwing a team-mate’s wife. Rugby league player Nate Myles was never fined $40k for pooing in a hotel corridor (though his club copped a hefty fine), and Simon Katich was never fined $40k for questioning the manner of his dumping from the Test team.

There’s actually a strong similarity between the situations of Katich last year and Cooper in mid 2012. Both were echoing the sentiment of ordinary fans across Australia that the goons running the show were stuffed. In Katich’s case, that meant cricket’s national selection panel. In Cooper’s case, it mostly meant Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

Kiwi blow-in Deans has been a failure, not because he didn’t win a World Cup but because rugby union has become less popular and less interesting in his four-and-a-half year tenure. Australia barely averages a try a game now. Whatever happened to running rugby? Win or lose, that’s what Australian fans want to see.

Cooper called the Wallabies set-up “toxic” for a bunch of reasons. He had valid logistical frustrations about the Wallabies’ training facilities being inferior to his Super XV provincial team, the Queensland Reds. But he also had serious concerns about the Robbie Deans stodgy game plan which stifled his creativity.

The guy, in short, had legitimate beefs. Though as Cooper himself contritely admitted yesterday, that doesn’t mean he was entitled to air them publicly.

Quade Cooper being Quade Cooper, he’ll never get a degree in diplomacy. There are certain things you just don’t do in sport, or any workplace really, and one of the biggies is bagging your own team. No matter how unsettled the environment, you just don’t air those grievances publicly.

And that’s not just an unspoken code, but a code of conduct the modern player is contract-bound to uphold. Rugby authorities really had no choice but to give Cooper a great big fine, and no doubt they smirked inside while dishing it out.

So in one sense, Cooper got what he deserved. As mentioned, though, it’s a big sum for saying what many fans are thinking – and what many of Cooper’s team-mates were no doubt thinking too.

In person, Cooper is much like his public persona. He can come across as a bit of a dope, then he’ll say something clever. He’ll be momentarily bitter, then come up with a mood-lightening one-liner. The guy lives his life much as he plays rugby. He’s brilliant but flawed, quick-thinking but not always as strategic as he might be.

Australians still don’t really have a feel for whether this guy is really committed to rugby union or whether he’d secretly rather switch to league. In all likelihood, Quade Cooper doesn’t know either.

One thing we do know is that Cooper is now likely to keep his trap shut for a while, or a little more shut than usual anyway.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

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    • Breakaway says:

      11:45am | 01/11/12

      The contract should have been torn-up, no sport needs a ‘toxic player’ within its ranks; it is a team!  I cannot believe the ARU gave him yet another chance.  The money saved on the contract could have been used to develop the game at the grass roots level.  Who needs a supposed ‘hero’, better a team of unsung hero’s who bring honour to the jersey and command respect.  Cooper is no role model and we need role models - leaders!!!!

    • Testfest says:

      01:04pm | 01/11/12

      Umm… I would actually prefer that players the ARU chose for the Wallabies were incredibly talented rugby players, not “role models to the kids”.

      I don’t care if Quade Cooper drinks like a fish, chews with his mouth open and pisses in his kitchen sink, so long as he plays good rugby for Australia.

      I agree with Ant - bring back running rugby!

    • paul says:

      01:28pm | 01/11/12

      @Tesfest -How about some pride in australia, you ever wonder the All Blacks are unbeatable? They have pride in there nations and its jersey? Quade could be campo, lynah, and Farr-jones and it wouldn’t matter, as it appears he see’s the wallaby jumper as no different then a club jumper, there to help his career. The guy has no respect for Australia.

    • Gamer says:

      02:11pm | 01/11/12

      why are the All Blacks unbeatable Paul? Sure, pride might come into it a bit, but it doesn’t take away from the fact they have some of the best players in the world at the moment in key positions, and their tactics fits their playstyle. The Wallabies have pride and respect in their jersey, and I include Cooper in that, but the tactics they use are dull, predictable and lifeless. I don’t blame Cooper for speaking up, because Anthony is right, he was just voicing how alot of us feel

    • paul says:

      02:59pm | 01/11/12

      @ Gamer, fair enough. How about just waiting until the end of the season? Who bags out his mates when they are travelling to play in south africa, in a stadium the wallabies have never tasted success in? What possible good could come of that? Were they going to fire deans 4 days before a match?
      I actually agree with Quades comments, but not waiting till the end of the season or even firstly raising it in private is incredibly self serving.
      Do you understand Khoder Nassar? this is how he plays if he thinks he might start losing some$$$.
      Name me another Wallaby that has ever done this during a season? There isn’t and that’s what puts Nassar and Quade in a different category.
      Common there isnt 1 sport you can bag your coach in and get away with it. Lets be real this isnt just a Union thing.

    • JoniM says:

      03:36pm | 01/11/12

      There are enough burglars alreading mooching off the ARU !
      One less like Cooper, would never be missed.
      The guy is a dill and should be ever grateful he has enough talent to run the football which clinched him an oversized paypacket from the leather patch brigades ! The $40k fine is a night out in Surfers for him !
      He would never make it the NRL as you need to be able to make a tackle, take a tackle , have some team discipline and keep your gob shut unless you have something useful to say !
      He should apologise profusely to the inept ARU for what he has now ! It won’t get any better for him !

    • Gamer says:

      03:56pm | 01/11/12

      That just makes him guilty of rotten timing, not of having no respect for Australia and for the jersey. And to say its self serving is a bit harsh without knowing the facts behind the tweet, he may have felt he was justified in sending it, he could of been pissed off, or he could’ve simply have been pissed. sure, it could’ve been self serving, but without context, you’re simply jumping to conclusions.

    • paul says:

      04:33pm | 01/11/12

      @ gamer did you even follow what was happening? It was several tweets, he then went on the Rugby Club and further ripped the team to shreds. It was not 1 little tweet. Bad timing? please, why make such pathetic excuses? He has an extremely intelligent manager and they know exactly what they are doing. 1 tweet? it was a systematic campaign Gamer.

    • paul says:

      12:00pm | 01/11/12

      Anthony the fine was so big as it was that or getting rid of him. I will forever love Quade for the super rigby title in Queensland but the guy is not a true aussie and it showed. A true aussie never would of come out and bagged his mates and nation, that simple.
      Quade was looking form and watching his market value plunge so he (Kohder Nassar) had to respond.
      The real grub is his manager Nassar who has zero respect for anything except $$$. Even after Quade signed his last contract Nassar grumbled in public “im dirty on Quade signing I could of got him much more money elsewhere”. How can quade ever commit with a clown like that? Like SBW, Mundine it is all money and who they step on does not matter.
      If I was the ARU I would make it clear they do not deal with Kdoder Nassar.

    • Jeremy says:

      03:18pm | 01/11/12

      No, pride in Australia means sticking your neck out of line and standing up to mediocrity. Quade wants Australia to win, and it’s not happening with the joke of a coach we currently have.
      So you go ahead and put your hand on your heart and be proud to be losing again. But I’m proud of the Australia that has the grit to win.

    • paul says:

      04:57pm | 01/11/12

      Senior wallabies spoke out in dismay, McCaw spoke out in sympathy for the wallabies. Dont give me this crap having a whinge 4 days before the wallabies played is sticking your neck out.  How is during his campaign whinging about wanting to play with SBW for australia?

    • Markus says:

      12:01pm | 01/11/12

      Public criticism of your employer is grounds for termination of employment in most industries.
      Given he was in the middle of a contract negotiation, and his recent drop in form saw a complete loss of interest from the NRL and the security of his own starting position in the Wallabies, I’m sure even he would consider a $40k fine as getting off lucky.

    • Sam Scout says:

      12:03pm | 01/11/12

      Whatever happened to free speech.

      If the ARU didn’t like what he said by all means break his contract/dump him from the team but at the end of the day a man is entitled to voice his opinion.

    • paul says:

      12:55pm | 01/11/12

      um you obviously have no understanding of the Wallabies or professional sport. Every sport has a code where you cant have a go at the coach.
      So you are saying players can go around bagging there coach and walk into the team? Quade can walk away if he wants.
      “a man is entitled to voice his opinion”. This is sports mate not some democratic election.
      Are you actually serious? Follow sport and then get back to us.

    • Tin Ear says:

      01:06pm | 01/11/12

      1. We do not have any form of constitutionally protected free speech.
      2. The High Court has inferred that we have some protection for political speech.
      3. Even the USA’s “free speech” is limited in that it offers protection from the government, not your employer.

    • Tin Ear says:

      01:06pm | 01/11/12

      1. We do not have any form of constitutionally protected free speech.
      2. The High Court has inferred that we have some protection for political speech.
      3. Even the USA’s “free speech” is limited in that it offers protection from the government, not your employer.

    • AFR says:

      01:33pm | 01/11/12

      Paul, something is clearly wrong within Rugby. Should the powers that be be free from criticism from within?

    • paul says:

      01:52pm | 01/11/12

      @AFR No they should not. But a player who is injured raising it while his mates still have 2 games to go is incredibly self serving. Common this is rule number one you cannot question your coach to the media during a competition.
      These concerns would best of been raised firstly in private. But that would not of helped quade would it.

    • Gregg says:

      02:05pm | 01/11/12

      ” Paul, something is clearly wrong within Rugby. Should the powers that be be free from criticism from within? “
      You have probably arrived at something is wrong via lack of success, particularly against the All Blacks.
      What a lot of people fail to appreciate is that Rugby is our third or even fourth football code if you want to put Soccer up there ahead behind AFL and League whereas in NZ it is a Big #1 and the Kiwis will always have far more passion for the game they play right through from grass roots juniors, a bit like how we have passion for AFL or League.

      And yet in recent times we’ve gone close to knocking off the All Blacks more often and anytime will never be easy, more times possibly occurring recently if not for quite a few injuries and that may have been a godsend in a way for it has allowed blooding of many new players.

      I sometimes wonder whether Deans is the right guy for he does not seem to bring too much passion to the team himself, but as Paul says, you do not start bagging the coach and Quade comes across as a bit of a brash upstart even without that and we can do without that style of passion.

    • paul says:

      03:05pm | 01/11/12

      @ Gregg, I actually am not that comfortable with Deans. I have never really forgiven him for not bringing a second 7 to the world cup. Beau had just finished dismantling McCaw twice that season in super rugby, and the guy should of atleast been in the squad.
      I am arguing on principle and the code of conduct Quade should adhere to.

    • paul says:

      04:26pm | 01/11/12

      @gregg its actually hilarious you think that Quade was arguing out of passion. ROFL. Quade looks after Quade , Nassar looks after Nassar. Quade should of been dropped in the world cup but deans stuck by him, quade should not of been offered one of the highest contracts in australia but the ARU stuck by him, the guy has had more support then he derserves and know the ARhe bad guys for not putting up with rant. Maybe we should respect the senior wallabies who have bled for there team year after year, who felt let down by quade.
      But oh yea its just poor little quade fighting for australia eh gregg.

    • Paula says:

      12:47pm | 01/11/12

      Is $40,000 too much? It’s all relative. $40,000 may seem to be an enormous sum to most people but isn’t such a big deal to a highly paid sportsperson. Having said that, clearly it was enough that Cooper has pulled his head in and accepted the sanction without qualm or appeal.

    • Daniel says:

      12:56pm | 01/11/12

      I dont think that fine is excessive. These footballers get away with too much as it is.

    • Punters Pal says:

      01:21pm | 01/11/12

      I am no fan of Quade Cooper, but $40k for few muttering on Twitter and Fox Sports rugby show sound really excessive. Most likely there were only handful of people who actually read it or saw it first hand, before media blew it all up.

      So, let’s say his damage to the brand Wallaby was worth $40,000. If this is a yardstick, they should fine Berrick Barnes for kicking every ball away which comes into his hands $100,000 and Dingo Deans and his sugar daddy Johnno O’Neill $1,000,000 each for doing irreparable damage to rugby as sport in Australia. When AFL and NRL are signing $1bn broadcasting agreements and even football is up 100%, rugby is barely on most people consciousness.

    • Gav says:

      01:25pm | 01/11/12

      Surely, Cooper didn’t make his comments based on nothing. The Wallabies performances, over recent times, have not been good enough. As Australians we must demand that the Wallabies achieve Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup victories, so as to improve our chances at the World Cup!

      Frankly, I’d like to know what is being done by Australian Rugby to look into and fix the alleged ‘toxic’ culture, the poor training facilities and most importantly in developing a Wallabies squad that can beat the All Blacks.

    • sunny says:

      01:26pm | 01/11/12

      The irony is neither Quade’s way or Robbie’s way is going to get through the AB’s defensive brick wall. At the risk of copping a $40K I’ll give them some advice - build siege towers ..or start tunneling!

    • Rose says:

      01:42pm | 01/11/12

      I have a real problem with the powers that be in a lot of sports, they have stopped sports people from having an opinion on anything, they have squashed the characters of players and they have set themselves up as being beyond criticism.
      Cooper’s comments were pretty harsh and probably not terribly edifying to his code, his coaches or his team, but in all honesty, does he have a point? Did he lie? I don’t know, I’m not at all interested in rugby in any form, but I tend to think that unless a player is lying, they shouldn’t be silenced. Maybe though, it’s easier to ban players from speaking, or fine those that do speak out, than it is to address the real issues.
      Should Cooper have been sanctioned for what he said, I don’t know? But surely, if players had been given an avenue to air their concerns and be genuinely listened to, then maybe he wouldn’t have had to say what he said.

    • Steve Putnam says:

      06:06pm | 01/11/12

      @Rose If there is a toxic atmosphere in the Wallabies then Quadely helped put it in place.
      After the Reds won the Super 15 everyone was singing his praises. Opinionated blow-hard Spiro Zavos, called him the “Picasso of the pass” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) and the push for him to be Wallaby five-eighth gained momentum. He had the backing of the coach for the last World Cup and blew it big time. He can’t tackle to save his life, he won’t take the line on if the opposition stands up on him, he off loads “hospital” passes to supports and his kicking suffers because he’s got one eye on the opposition flankers coming through to monster him instead of concentrating on the length and direction of his kicks.
      He doesn’t have a point in any way shape or form. As things stand now the All Blacks are in a class by themselves. It wouldn’t matter who we picked or who was coaching them. Better to keep Beale in the no10 shirt and developing a backline around him.

    • paul says:

      06:26pm | 01/11/12

      @ Steve , summed it up brilliantly mate.

    • Bomb78 says:

      01:47pm | 01/11/12

      The difference between Simon Katich and Quade Cooper are form - Katich had been in reasonable form when dumped, Cooper has been injured and out of form since Queensland’s Super rugby title last year - and Simon Katich was and is a class act off the field too, something Cooper is never likely to be.

    • AFR says:

      03:30pm | 01/11/12

      Never understood the love affair people have for Katich (sorry to be getting off-topic).

    • paul says:

      04:15pm | 01/11/12

      @Bomb78 that’s the he is basically running of a reputation that consists of a season and a half of amazing super rugby. Has not stepped up in the Gold to date. Or as Quade calls it the green.

    • murph says:

      01:52pm | 01/11/12

      Cooper was fined $40K because his comments cut too close to the bone.  The Wallabies are toxic.  Deans is a woeful coach and is dragging the Wallabies down

    • Gregg says:

      02:13pm | 01/11/12

      I reckon you’ve summed it up fairly well Ant as to Quade Cooper being somewhat of a prickly character and I’ve often wondered about how well he fits in the team, passes sometimes not giving his team mates too good a chance to take them and then he is not the best there is when it comes to defence.

      I reckon the hefty fine is more about a signal of shape or ship out more so than just for the mouth.

      Sure we like the running game but physicality also has a role in rugby and strength in defence is also desirable, a great team needing both to be a great success and sometimes you will have the opposition calling the shots.
      Even with that draw in Brisbane, we nearly lost it because of just poor tactics in the end and then it was both the All Blacks defence initially and finally our own that saw a draw as a result, though some straight kicking could have seen a very different result.

    • Ohcomeon says:

      02:42pm | 01/11/12

      Who cares what a pretend court of boofheads says about anything?

      I wish sports would stay on the field and not waste the communities time and money with this ceaseless adolescent nonsense.

    • jhamiltonwa says:

      03:06pm | 01/11/12


      Thanks for reading.

    • JoniM says:

      03:44pm | 01/11/12

      Yep !
      Says it all really !

    • Oliver says:

      03:23pm | 01/11/12

      Overpaid administrators protecting their establishment. Doesn’t usually end well.

    • Anthony Robert James says:

      06:13pm | 01/11/12

      Quade was justifiably pissed off that Robbie told the world he would have pulled Quade from the field if he could. What coach does that! The following week Kurtley got praise for his performance which was actually on a par with Quade’s. Pays to be in Robbie’s good book I suppose.
      BTW what is it with his current crop of player names, what was wrong with Tony, Bob or Jim.

    • paul says:

      06:50pm | 01/11/12

      Hahaha. Kurtleys performance was much much better then Quades. Common?
      Fair point on Dingos comment, but doesn’t mean I would go out and say something that effects your team mates. The most spineless comment was “other players agree with me”. How dare he drag squad members into it, when they are getting ready for bokke. He should speak for himself and no one else.


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