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It's time for Kiwis to forgive Quade Cooper

By Finn Morton
James Slipper and Quade Cooper of the Wallabies watch on following the The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Playmaker Richie Mo’unga held his nerve with a last-minute penalty goal to give the All Blacks a slender win over a valiant Wallabies outfit at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday afternoon.


The Test had pretty well everything. It had plenty of drama, running rugby, and some brilliant battles within the dark arts of the scrum and breakdown.

But, to quote the famous fictitious boxer Rocky Balboa, it wasn’t “all sunshine and rainbows.” Unfortunately, one infamous narrative continues to persist within the New Zealand rugby community.

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Sitting in the grandstands at the Dunedin venue, it was both shocking and disappointing to hear some of the 28,000 fans in attendance boo Wallaby Quade Cooper during the second half.

After more than a decade of hate, it seems that some New Zealanders have refused to change their ways or second-guess their actions.

Enough is enough. It’s not what the value of this great game stands for.

At the time of writing, it’s almost midnight. The Test finished many hours ago, but there is an issue that requires a discussion.


Let’s set the scene by going back to the beginning. Cooper rose to rugby infamy during the early stages of his Test career, and the flyhalf has failed to shrug off that reputation in the years since.


Cooper, who was born in New Zealand, decided to play for Australia after moving across the ditch as a teenager. The playmaker went to high school in Brisbane, and was well within his rights to represent either nation.

But Cooper has been met with a chorus of boos from fans in multiple matches over the years for an entirely different reason, really.

The Wallaby, just like many New Zealanders, “idolised” All Blacks legend Richie McCaw growing up. But when they met in the Test arena, the two clashed on a number of occasions.

“To every New Zealander, that was the dude, and you just wanted to meet him. But now I’m playing for Australia,” Cooper said on an episode of Bloke In A Bar earlier this year.


“In the Australian locker room and stuff like this, everyone is the opposite, they just want to kill him and that.

“In the game in Hong Kong, I cleaned him out and he’s on the ground… I’m sort of standing over him and he just kicks me off with his foot to get me off… I just wanted to get him back.

“We ended up scoring the try that tied the game… I gave him a shove and said some words to him… a few other boys came in and pushed me off.

“I remember walking off the field and I was so embarrassed and disappointed… It was a really weird situation.”

Cooper was cited for kneeing McCaw in a 2011 Bledisloe Cup Test – while the pivot went on to beat the charge, Cooper has since admitted guilt.

Following on from that now infamous incident, Cooper was booed by New Zealanders during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Playing against the All Blacks in the semi-final, the Wallaby was public enemy No. 1.

Maybe for a while, it added to the drama and intensity of Test rugby – but it’s been more than a decade now. It’s time to move on.

If you’ve heard Quade Cooper speak in various interviews over the years, including the aforementioned Bloke In A Bar episode, then you’ll see a big difference.

Cooper has matured – of course he has. Imagine being watched by thousands every week while you try to work in your 20s. It would be exhausting.

Other than Ardie Savea himself, I haven’t heard one person mention the backrowers’ run-in with Wallaby Carter Gordon during Super Round earlier this year, either.

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Savea, who captained the All Blacks in Bledisloe I, is a fan favourite – as for Gordon, much like Quade Cooper back in the early 2010s, the young playmaker is trying to find his feet in Test rugby.

Even in Bledisloe II, Gordon gave the haka an Owen Farrell-esque smirk. But nobody bats an eye – if anything, Wallabies fans may see Gordon’s intensity and passion as a breath of fresh air.

But Cooper was once the same.

Cooper has gone on to enjoy a decorated rugby career around the world, and will go down in history as one of the greatest Australian first-fives of the professional era.

That 2011 Super Rugby season will live on in the history books forever. It was just that good.

But for whatever reason, some fans refuse to appreciate greatness and change with the times as well. Again, it’s been more than a decade – it’s time to move on.

For any of those fans who thought it was fair to boo Cooper on Saturday, I implore you to tell me why. Tell me why, after more than a decade, some fans either can’t or won’t move on.


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Liam 340 days ago

If gordon knees savea in tge head, gives him a facial on the ground or generally acts like a total grub he'll get booed too. People can do what they like and booing quade is now a meme. Who cares

Ruby 341 days ago

I don't think people actually care anymore, it has become a tradition. They don't boo because they remember what happened, they remember what happened because they boo.

Maxwell 342 days ago

It's the lack of crowd energy to blame. The only noise NZ crowds make are; on attack ~10m out from the try line, when a player makes a line break, when there is a big hit, and when Quade Cooper touches the ball.

If NZ crowds could get some good atmosphere going everyone would forget to boo Cooper.

Wiremu 342 days ago

Yeh nah. U got it all wrong bro. Assuming the boos werte targeted at QC. And if it was u want to remind QC who was the d/head puting the the dirty hits bro and as far as we know he's NEVER been man enuff to apologise to the greatest AB of his time but thats for u fullas to question ur mate QC on the subject. Like a true leader Sir Richie has never ever bagged QC for anything only to say thats the heat of rugby and u juct gotta focus on winning the game not worry about an individual. Spoken like a BOSS!

Warner 342 days ago

Who cares about Cooper he's a has been , overpaid , overplayed , over rated . As for booing you only need look in one direction to know who'll win that hands down NORTHERN HEMISPHERE but
that's sport , the trick is being able to shut that out and get on with the game.
ABs get it at the beginning of the every game wen they do haka , it doesn't bother them , they're there for one reason only 80+ minutes of hard rugby and let's see at final whistle weather the booing had any influence on the outcome , I say not really.

mikejjules 342 days ago

That's our embarrassing redneck part of the population. In general people who have never left their own shores

Derek Murray 342 days ago

It’s not possible to change the behaviour of the sort of idiot that persists with this.

They’re now convincing themselves they’re helping the team effort by putting him off rather than ever acknowledging it’s just them shouting at a rugby player better than they’d dream of being who might somewhere in history have done something to St Richie.

It’s pathetic and says everything about the morons who persist with it. We’ve recently had to listen to the same sort of lowbrow behaviour from many England cricket fans, so these numnuts have company but it’s not a group you’d be proud to join

Alexander 342 days ago

The booing of Quade is no longer an expression of hate. It's more a ritual of black humor along the lines of the "Bring Back Buck" campaign long after Wayne Shelfords retirement. The constant finger wagging and tut tutting by media only exacerbate the situation. I would venture to say even Quade sees the irony in it

David 342 days ago

maybe the media shold stop mentioning him, then and we should be thanking him after yesterdays mistake

Jan 342 days ago

Thank , thank you for your comments about Quade Cooper. His action was seen Ritchies never was and that hero has never stepped up to tell his part in the niggle. I felt shame when I heard him booed shame that NZ could carry a grudge for so long. Shame on us! I hope no AB player ever suffers from a crowd in that way in any international game.

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