Top 15 of 2017: Cheika, Jones square off

International
by Sam Phillips

It's been a big year in rugby on many different fronts, so RUGBY.com.au is taking a look back at the 15 biggest storylines of the year, based on the stories you read.

The All Blacks' enthralling series draw with the British and Irish Lions kicked things off but today, we are taking a look back at a unique week for the game.

14. Cheika, Jones capture limelight ahead of Barbarians clash

From the moment Alan Jones posted a largely cryptic tweet regarding his return to rugby, it was on.

The 1984 Grand Slam coach took charge of the Barbarians and that was always going to spark headlines, given the reach his radio show and any comments that he makes typically provides.

Jones did not disappoint, raising eyebrows in naming outcast Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper as his skipper before firing the first of many verbal barbs by claiming Cheika was "playing it safe" in resting a host of stars for the match.


After sneaking past the Classic Wallabies in a warm up watch in Lismore, attention turned to the showdown at Allianz Stadium.

True to form, Jones heaped the pressure on the Wallabies by declaring anything short of a win would spark an instant crisis, with Cheika letting the next generation of Wallabies stars do the majority of the talking in the lead up to the match.

The Wallabies emerged victorious but it wasn't without controversy, Jones leaving his final mark on the week in the only way he knows how - with a bang.