Four Rugby Players Who'd Make Better Boxers Than Quade Cooper - Green and Gold Rugby

Four Rugby Players Who’d Make Better Boxers Than Quade Cooper

Four Rugby Players Who’d Make Better Boxers Than Quade Cooper

Boxing is pretty cool. Pay-per-view sales are a river of molten cash, also. So it’s understandable that rugby players might want to try their hand at the sweet science.

But Quade? Really? The contact-shy No. 10 can hardly bring himself to make a tackle, let alone trade punches with a professional pugilist.

So let’s face it: Quade won’t fight a pro boxer. Khoder Nasser will find an opponent in a South Island hospital carpark and disconnect him from dialysis for just long enough for Quade to demonstrate his fight-ending power and granite chin.

A much better idea, courtesy of Paul Cully, would be to have Quade square off against Freddie Flintoff, who made his heavyweight debut last Saturday. That’s my kind of freakshow.

But that’s not going to happen. Nasser isn’t going to sacrifice his cash cow by putting Quade in with a fighter who has an actual chance. Serious professional boxing is not a sport for latecomers. American heavyweight hope (they’ve given up on a Great White Hope”these days and take all comers) Seth Mitchell, a former linebacker, found that out the hard way a few weeks ago. Mitchell had been in the pro ranks five years.

With that in mind, here’s my list of rugby players who’d make decent prizefighters:


Dan Cole

Dan Cole

Even Dan Cole’s mum doesn’t love that mug

The English tighthead is a hard man. Like many good fighters, he’s willing to take punishment in order to dish it back out later on. That tendency was probably best showcased against the Wallabies in 2010, when the Englishman was cut in the first five minutes but played on regardless. Cole didn’t let the small matter of being blind in one eye keep him from inspiring England to victory.

His boxing inspiration could be junior welterweight Mike Alvarado, who wasn’t deterred last year when Colombia’s Breidis Prescott beat him up for nine rounds; Alvarado knocked him out in the tenth, despite a mug as bad as Cole’s.

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Richie McCaw

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Captain Illegal is a bad man. I mean that as compliment. He’s a tough cookie, but more than that, it’s amazing what he can get away with at the breakdown, right in front of the ref’s face. Ah well, you do what you have to do to win.

That’s the kind of attitude that would endear him to many in boxing, especially junior featherweight Abner Mares, who’s also mastered the dark arts. His 2011 fight with Joseph ‘King Kong’ Agbeko was so controversial that a rematch was necessary. Mares came out and decided that he would punch Agbeko in the dick all night. So he did. Referee Russell Mora did nothing. Just watching makes you want to cross your legs.

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Bakkies Botha

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Is there any doubt that Bakkies would be a lean, mean fighting machine? “Bakkies Botha fights” pops up before “Bakkies Botha tackles” in a YouTube search. The South African enforcer is as fond of his head, thumbs and elbows as he is his fists, though, which earns him a comparison with chrome-domed junior welterweight Tim Bradley, who’s got a career as a billy goat impersonator lined up when he retires.

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James O’Connor

Bieber seems at first an unlikely choice. But he’s got self-belief, skills and athleticism in spades – traits that any boxer needs. ‘Skills pay the bills’ is a boxing cliché but it’s true in rugby as well.

O’Connor’s role model: Adrien Broner, the world’s top lightweight. The 23-year-old Broner’s cocky schtick has been raising almost as many eyebrows as his skills in the ring.

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  • Parker

    That footage of Sir Cheatalot should be compulsory viewing for referees. And to think that was in just one game! Imagine the lowlights reel of his test career to date.Refs should be ashamed.

  • mxyzptlk

    “Mares came out and decided that he would punch Agbeko in the dick all night. So he did.”

    I just woke my dogs up laughing. I saw that fight, and vasectomies look more fun.

    Wouldn’t McCaw kind of be more in the mold of Bernard Hopikins? They’re both older for their sport yet supernaturally conditioned, both know all the tricks, and both get away with them a lot less obviously than Mares. Hopkins has even mastered how to get away with things on the wrong side of his opponent when the ref can’t see — for all we know, B-Hop got that from McCaw.

    • Cheers mate. I actually was going to go with Bernard Hopkins for Richie, but thought I’d introduce Mares to rugby fans who’ve probably never heard of him. He’s actually a really fun, determined fighter apart from the cock-sniping.

      And yeah, I’m pretty sure B-Hop and Richie have been comparing notes.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    On that Richie video, which was highly ‘educational’. I think it needs to be said that the NZ commentators seemed as perplexed as everyone else as to why Rolland is so reluctant to ping & card McCaw. I couldn’t hear what they were saying about other players offside at the rucks & mauls. Possibly equally puzzled.

    As we know players will always push it to the limit to see what the ref will and won’t penalize. Rolland seemed, shall we say, fairly lenient with his interpretation of off-side.

  • Mumbles

    Mate, Why spoil a good post with this negative shit about QC, I don,t care if he wins or gets trashed. From what I have read its a charity event, he should be commended. As for sir richie, spot on & it’s a shame such a talented player resorts to these tactics

    • The charity event is a tiny bit disingenuous. In the sense that a certain donation is made up front and the rest is entirely for profit. Not that it’s not a good cause, just that Quade will also be making a fair bit of coin as well.

  • skip

    i can save you the trouble of reading the comments section of any youtube clip involving the dark lord of the offside. they read as follows

    “bloody aussies/saffas/poms/insert as needed. they never stop whinging. always whinging. whinging and moaning. they just keep whinging and moaning. any suggestion that ruchie is a cheat is just whinging and moaning. yet more whinging and moaning. the aussies/poms/saffas/insert as needed don’t ruspect him and whinge and moan, moan and whinge, whinge and moan. they’re just bloody whingers. big kev never headbutted moody, otherwise nisbo and TJ would have said, just whinging. anyone who says hore should’ve been carded is just whinging and moaning, moaning and whinging. the saffas/aussies/poms/insert as needed are not like us, they are nations of whingers.”

    etc. though i missed a lot of profanity to be sure.

    • reidstah

      A huge whing about whingers….nice work right there.

      • skip

        clearly tongue in cheek sarcasm, old boy. :)

  • bill

    Well, thing is, if you were going to compare Quade’s skills as a rugby player to a boxer of similar skills in his field, there’s two that spring to mind.

    One an acknowledged legend, the great Willie Pep. The second is almost tailor made for Quade’s career thus far in some respects, someone who has as many detractors as supporters and is often considered a joke, but he’s one of my favourites, someone who won’t fit into any boxing manual, Emmanuel Augustus.

    What Emanuel did do is blow your mind and demand you enjoy the sport. The ultimate outlier on the bell curve of his sport.

    • bill

      sit back and relax. enjoy the show.

    • I don’t know if I like the comparison. Pep was an all timer. Augustus was a good, fun fighter, whose record of 38-34-6 doesn’t accurately reflect what he brought to the sport. I’d say a more accurate comparison for Quade would be Zab Judah, a guy with god given gifts whose lack of mental fortitude never let him reach his full potential. Though that might be a bit harsh/premature for Quadey.

      • bill

        just a little premature. In Rugby terms.

        As far as my thoughts about Pep go, yeah, he is an all timer, he’s done plenty. Quade hasn’t achieved the same in rugby, despite a stellar 2011, but when you look at the escapes he’s pulled on the field and how that might be paralleled in boxing terms, there’s little where else to go than the two guys I mentioned.

        As far as Augustus goes, people talk about expressing yourself in sport a lot, few ever have the talent to do so. Cooper and Augustus do. What Judah expressed was pretty immature. I hope at the end of Cooper’s career we aren’t finding the same.

  • bill

    Personally I think Bakkies wouldn’t enjoy boxing, he wouldn’t have a ruck or maul holding his guy down and defenceless.

    • Tenacious_Dee

      You’re in denial if you think Bakkies is a coward. Thug yes, coward, nope.

      • bill

        thugs don’t box, they get found out. Then again, Tyson, ears. One exception to the rule.

  • The Rant

    One of the only things going for quade is that as you say – he’s contact shy.This is actually a great trait for a boxer. You don’t want to get hit and if you are quick enough – you don’t get hit that much.
    Mundine isn’t a rough and ready fighter. He’s just quick.
    Quade’s biggest issue is that he is actually pretty big and the guys in his weight class can punch through walls. So if he ever was going to be a contender – he’ll need a lot more upper body strength than he has currently.
    Love to see him and sonny knocked out in the same night. But it wont happen as everything will be carefully managed,

    • Good point. Guys like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Mundine don’t relish contact. But even the best defensive fighters get hit and have to deal with it. I don’t think Quade would – but it’s all a laugh anyway.

      • The Rant

        Again -to be fair to quade. He might not be a great tackler. But you don’t see him going down like a soccer player either around the field. His high tackling style (while shit and ineffective) is quite confrontational – just more useful in a brawl than actually trying to stop a person getting past you.

        • Dave

          I have to second that. I reckon he gets a bit of a bad rap from his poor tackling technique being mistaken for cowardice.

  • Guest

    Idea borrowed from a different forum but how about players that would be as bad or worse than QC in the ring. Ronan O’Gara gets my vote.

  • someguy

    Idea from the reddit thread on this – rugby players as bad or worse than QC in the ring. My nominee is Ronan O’Gara.

  • Canuckruck

    That was some funny shit. My favourite is the McCaw try v Wallabies off of the scrum which was uploaded here a in Sep 2010. How can you get away with that?

  • FlankerLady7

    Going back to the boxing, shit – McCaw would have a mean punch – didn’t that pitch invader
    Pieter Van Zyl in 2002 leave with a bloody nose?

  • Noisey

    I reckon you missed two proven scrappers. Duncan ‘cop that you pommy twat’ McRae and Peter ‘I’ll take the lot of you froggies on’ Fitzsimons

  • And, as I said on Facebook:

    Thanks for the comments guys. If you want more intelligent discussion of head (and dick) punching, head on over to or give our facebook page Queensberry Rules a like.

    Also, a bit of an all time great fight happened yesterday, and we haven’t stopped shaking yet.

  • Drop Kick

    Great article Alex, but then I would expect nothing less from someone with your heritage.


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