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John Eales

John Eales is a former Australian rugby union footballer who played lock for Queensland Reds and Australia. He won the Rugby World Cup twice in his illusterious career, first in 1991, and later skippering his country to victory in 1999. Nicknamed "Nobody" because "nobody's perfect".

John Eales played for the Brothers Rugby Club early in his rugby playing career before he got called up to represent his state. He made his debut for the Queensland in 1990 against Canterbury. At the start of his state career, the lock state pairing were the Wallaby pairing of Bill Campbell and Rod McCall.

However, Campbell retired soon after due to his heavy commitment as a doctor and thus created an opening for the young Eales. Thereafter, Eales was almost always an automatic choice apart for a brief period in 1994. Curiously, it took him until 1999 to get the state captaincy, some 3 years after he first captained his country. The Reds would make the Super 12 semifinals thrice during Eales' time, though they would never make the final.

John Eales won 86 caps for Australia in an international career that spanned 10 years beginning with his debut in 1991.

John Eales was first capped by Australia in 1991 at the age 21 during Australia’s 63-6 win over Wales in Brisbane. He would go on to make it to the World Cup winning squad later that year. In the final, with Australia holding on to a slim 12-6 lead with only minutes left on the clock, English flyhalf Rob Andrew made a break and was headed toward the Australian goal line. Out of nowhere, Eales caught him and tackled him, thus saving the game for his team ensuring his team won the World Cup.

Australian coach Bob Dwyer would later remark, “You tell me, how does a 6 foot 7 inch second-rower run down a fleet footed fly-half like Rob Andrew? As long as I live, I’ll never know.” With the momentum of their World Cup win, Australia would go on to win the Bledisloe Cup in 1992, their first since 1986. However, in end 1992, Eales suffered a serious shoulder injury which kept him out for the whole of 1993.

Eales would return in 1994 before an attempt to a successfully defend Australia’s World Cup the following year in South Africa. The 1995 World Cup would prove to be a disappointing one to the defending champions as they crashed in the Quarter Final to England in a repeat of their final 4 years prior. This time Rob Andrew would have the final laugh as his drop goal at the stroke of full time dealt a heartbreaking 25-22 loss to the Australians.

Greg Smith would succeed Dwyer as coach and handed Eales the captaincy in 1996. It was an unauspicious start as the Wallabies got whipped 43-6 by the All Blacks. 1997 would follow a similar pattern as the Wallabies got trounced 3-0 in the Bledisloe Cup Series by the All Blacks and lose 61-22 to South Africa. Eales though missed the South African whipping due to injury. Due to poor results, it wouldn’t take long before Smith was sacked and Rod Macqueen was appointed the new coach.

While Macqueen had initially expressed reservations over Eales’ ability as captain, he was nevertheless retained in his leadership role. Australia was on the road to recovery with it 76-0 win over England in June 1998.

Five months later in Twickenham, Eales landed 4 penalty goals, his last in the dying minutes to give Australia a dramatic 12-11 win over England. That same year also saw the Wallabies regain the Bledisloe Cup with a 3-0 series whitewash over the All Blacks thus reversing the series sweep they suffered the year before.

A shoulder injury kept Eales out of the early part of 1999, but it wouldn’t stop him from recovering just in time for the World Cup later that year. Australia went through to the semi finals rather comfortably, before a dramatic 24-18 victory disposed defending champions South Africa to set up a final with surprise finalist France.

Australia would win 35-12, in a final which would probably be best remembered by the unnecessarily violent attitude of the French team. Eales had at one point even threaten to take his team off the field if the referee could not guarantee the safety of his players.

Following the 1999 Rugby World Cup win, Australia carried on the momentum. In 2000, the Bledisloe Cup was retained with Eales kicking a penalty with the last kick of the game in a gripping 24-23 win over the All Blacks in the decider.

The Wallabies would also win the Tri Nations Series for the first time that year, victory coming in equally dramatic circumstances as winger Stirling Mortlock nailed a penalty with the last kick for a 19-18 win over South Africa in Durban. In 2001, Eales led Australia to their first ever series win over the British and Irish Lions.

Macqueen stepped down after the series victory and Eddie Jones took over as coach for the Tri Nations Series. In the final game of the tournament against the All Blacks, the Wallabies had to win to retain the Tri Nations title. They once again sealed another triumph at the dead by a score of 29-26, the winning try by no.8 Toutai Kefu coming in the dying seconds. That marked Eales' final act as a rugby player as he retired following the dramatic victory.

John Eales is considered to be the greatest Wallaby to ever play for Australia.

  • Eales scored 173 points for Australia which come from 2 tries, 34 penalties & 31 conversions, a total which places his 8th on the all-time scoring list for Australia. He is the highest scoring forward in test rugby history and only one of two forwards to have ever surpassed 100 points in test rugby. This is because of his being a goal kicker, which is unusual for a forward, his two tries are unremarkable even for a forward.

  • Eales captained for Australia a record 55 times. Only Will Carling has captained his counties in more games than him. Eales' 86 caps make him the most capped forward in Australia’s test rugby history and joint 3rd on the overall list.

  • Eales is one of only 21 players to have represented the Queensland Reds in 100 or more state games. He represented his state in 112 games.

  • He is one of five players to have won the Rugby World Cup twice. The others are Dan Crowley, Phil Kearnes, Jason Little and Tim Horan. The third most capped lock of all time. He is surpassed by only Welsh Gareth Llewellyn and French captain Fabien Pelous.

  • Eales scored a total of 402 points in the Super 12 competition with 6 tries, 66 conversions and 80 penalties for the Queensland Reds. No forward has scored more points than him in the competition's history.

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