What lies behind Nick Cummins' choice to leave Australia

What lies behind Nick Cummins’ choice to leave Australia

What lies behind Nick Cummins’ choice to leave Australia

I don’t think there’s anyone who isn’t shocked and a bit saddened by the announcement today that Nick Cummins will be leaving Australian rugby next year to play in Japan  – effectively ruling him out of playing for the Wallabies in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

For me the loss is hardest in the sense that The Badger is one of the few modern sportspeople able to communicate genuinely and effectively at a time when media management has rendered players as cliche machines.

Before we howl too loud at the moon though, it’s worth understanding the background to Nick’s decision. We don’t know the exact ins and outs yet, but Nick comes from a family of 8 siblings, two of whom have cystic fibrosis, looked after in rural Queensland by their single parent father who also has prostate cancer. You can imagine the pressures on this remarkable family as outlined in the video below:

So, while it hasn’t been stated as much, if a club came knocking with a stack of low tax cash, you can imagine that it would be pretty hard for the Badger to turn such an offer down.

Reading between the lines from Bill Pulver’s statement, it would seem that’s what’s happened:

“We have been working with Nick and his management team to explore ways to retain him within Australian Rugby since we were notified of his circumstances.”

“Due to his unique and extreme personal circumstances, we have reluctantly made a decision to grant Nick an early release from his current contract based on compassionate grounds.

“We wish him well for the future on and off the field and he is aware that we – and Rugby fans across Australia who have embraced him as the ‘Honey Badger’ – would love to see him back in Australia in the future.”

There you have it. No doubt the hardest decision the Badger’s had to make, but you can’t knock him for it.

UPDATE – Below is Nick’s statement from Instragram, just released:

  • Brett McKay

    Matt, for what it’s worth, Force CEO Mark Sinderberry said in their MR that they still hope to have Cummins back next season – so he may yet still be well in contention for the RWC if he returns in time…

    • REDinCPT

      I cannot see why he couldn’t come back and play for the Force next year following his Japanese commitments and still be eligible for the Wallabies and the RWC. George Smith did it with the Brumbies and the Lions tour although I do recall there was an issue regarding permission from the Japanese club. In Cape Town Peter Grant alway pitches up to the Stormers 3/4 games into the SR session.

      • bad ass

        It’s a big ask to go three seasons back to back with no off season, no break/rest, no pre season conditioning and strengthening, and then straight into a world cup. Normal humans can’t do it. All the best to badge. Would love to see him in the wallabies again. Some players lift the team’s performance because of their attitude, more than their ability. Having said that, I think the badge is and has been one of the most underrated wallabies in terms of skill.

  • TBR

    This helps with the pain and is both fair and valid. One can only imagine the Badger will enjoy scattering 70kg players like bowling pins over in Hello Kitty land. Good luck Nick, the door is always open for your return.

  • Happy Hooker

    Disappointing… would Rugby HQ please sign him up for segment? I’m thinking something introducing us to Japanese Rugby through his, very unique, eyes… he’ll be sorely missed off the pitch!

    • deLicious

      His eyes will be even more unique in Japan.

    • Seaweed

      What a great idea: ‘The Badger goes to Japan’ Cult viewing.

    • Fox Sports needs to be told of this idea!

  • Lesley

    RE THINK sabbaticals

  • Gottsy

    Some things are bigger than rugby. All the best Badger, you’ll be welcomed back with open arms.

  • Jack

    Completely understand and respect his decision, couldn’t have been easy, he’s a huge loss both on and off the field. The harsh reality though is that he should probably be dropped for the upcoming series given that he won’t be available for RWC. Surely it would be of benefit to give more experience to the combinations we’re likely to see take us to world cup glory next year…Or am I getting ahead of myself..?

    • Tom

      He isn’t playing for the Wallabies again this year anyway. He finishes up at the end of the Super Rugby Season with the Force iirc.

      • Guest

        Well there you go, missed that detail. My point is moot…Deleting.

  • Phil

    I had not seen that interview before and it only increases my admiration for this great character.There is no bullshit about him,it is just the way he is.Good luck to him,as he is obviously doing this for all the right reasons.
    I just hope we see him back soon.

  • Marto

    Champion bloke and champion family….good luck Badg

  • Seaweed

    All the best Mr Badger, more power to you. Family comes first. Good luck and best to your family too.

  • frankenlager

    From a Bok supporter here in Jo’burg, I’d like to wish the Honey Badger all the best in Japan and in the future. What’s remarkable about him is that despite all the personal difficulty he lives with, he still manages to bring a unique joy to everything he does and all those around him. Go you good thing!

  • aka_the_think

    Me thinks the ARU should make an exception to the domestic only policy in light of the
    extreme circumstances. It’s clear that he doesn’t want to leave Aus.,
    but doesn’t have any other option. Come on ARU, be a sport!

    • Mitch

      completely agree. With cirumstances like this as well as the Wallabies wanting to be competitive as they can, the ARU seriously has to start looking into their current domestic policy stance. Shame to see such a hardworking young player be stripped of a chance to play and complete a dream of his, yet if South African this issue would not be mentioned.

  • Gun

    Go the Badg. Look forward to his return and best wishes to his family.

  • Lance Taylor

    What’s not to like about this guy? I can only wish him all the best – and his family as well.

  • Forrest

    He has been brought up by a wonderful Father and I can understand his motives are to not think of himself but his family. Well done Nick, you will be around for a long time and we will always no when you around.

  • Nick

    All the best Nick. Love your work.

  • Declan Yeats

    Standing ovation for Nick and his family.

  • Andrew

    Really sad to see him go, A true gentleman, and champion of the sport. I hope that everything works out with his family, and I commend him for putting his family first like I would. A great human being

  • The Rant

    Damn shame for him, for the force and for us. Gotta give him the sideline microphone at the world cup!!
    Hope Japan works out for him. If he’s going over there single he will be leaving a trail of ripped sushi in his wake.

  • Douglas

    Sad news but what a top bloke, you can’t question his motivation behind the move. It is a shame the ARU can’t make a special exception in his case. All the best Badger!

  • joel

    What Seaweed said, he can do a hamish and andy style Japan adventure. I want to see The Badger go a sea Urchin!

  • Richard

    Best wishes from every rugby fan in New Zealand. Great rugby player, even greater human being.

  • Robson

    Without question that interview with Nick Cummins was the most refreshing, authentic portrayal of a human being that I have ever, EVER, viewed.

  • Rob

    Absolute champion

  • Street Walkin Cheetah

    God bless the Badger. We now need to cultivate the “Wolverine”. Apparently they are about even stevens in the pugilists stakes.

    Go to Japan and chew on a few cobras heads then come back mate. We need Australian Honey Badgers to procreate and make better Australians of all of us.

    The All Blacks will be breathing a sigh of relief knowing the Badger will be off taking on other predators for the immediate future.

  • rebelpirate

    an absolute legend….this is a video i will show my kids of what a real sportsman is!…good luck honey badger and hope everything turns out well and you return to australian rugby.


Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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