Both leaders have strong rugby links

by staff

As former club mate of Tony Abbott, Classic Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, pointed out in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, both the Prime Minster, Kevin Rudd, and the challenger, Mr Abbott, have strong links with Rugby.

FitzSimons was coached by Mr Abbott at Sydney University, where the Opposition Leader was known for his enthusiasm for torrid scrumming sessions.

FitzSimons recalls "one time, when he was coaching me in 1989, Sydney Uni No.2 was a quagmire of mud, and sensible players had long since retired to the dressing room. Situation perfect."

"Again and again and again Mr Abbott put the first and second XV packs through scrums, running from spot to spot to set the new scrum, as we maddened muddy wombats staggered after him. Forty minutes in, as our eyeballs rolled with exhaustion ..."

As well as coaching Mr Abbott also played in the front row for Sydney University Second grade as well as winning the fourth grade premiership in 1986 (as seen in Main Picture).

Indeed if the coalition is successful in gaining power on Saturday the front bench is likely to be full of former Sydney University front rowers.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey was a reportedly hard-hitting prop playing largely in Third grade, and in 1987 he was famously involved in a dust up with his now leader during a scrumming session.

The Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband, Malcolm Turnbull, propped up the scrum in Fourths.

With his now lean frame Mr Turnbull would likely be seen in the outside backs, which is where the Prime Minister played in his school days at Marist Brothers Ashgrove in Brisbane.

Both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott have continued their love for the game, with the Prime Minister a regular visitor to the Qantas Wallabies dressing room after Test matches and both leaders attending the deciding Test between the Wallabies and the British and Irish Lions in Sydney in July.

In a further potential boost for Rugby the Liberal-National coalition has committed $10 million to develop a world-class training facility and community sporting hub at TG Millner Field in Eastwood. The NSW State Government will also match that funding commitment.

The ALP have also made funding commitments of a similar amount to Rugby Union should they be re-elected.

Unfortunately neither leader will be at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night to see the Wallabies take on the Springboks in the third round of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship – as they have other matters on their minds.

But you can still be there to watch Will Genia and the boys blitz the Boks. To get your tickets now click here.

To read Peter FitzSimons' full article click here