SUFC provides six for Wallabies Spring tour

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Graham Croker


Sydney University Football Club capped off a wonderful year by having six players named in the 36-man Australian squad to tour Hong Kong and Europe during November.


Halfbacks Luke Burgess and Nick Phipps, five-eighth Berrick Barnes, flankers Pat McCutcheon and Ben McCalman and second-rower Dean Mumm were named in the touring party, while hooker Nathan Charles and backrower Dave Dennis just missed out on selection after being named in the original 40-man train-on squad.


It is the most number of SUFC players chosen for a Wallaby tour. The club provided five players on Wallaby tours in 1927, 1946 and 1962. The club will also represented on the 2010 tour by Bob Egerton, a Wallaby and former Sydney University First XV member and University Blue, who is team manager.


Phipps, the bolter in the squad, and Australian Sevens captain McCutcheon, found out about their selection at their quarters in Delhi, where they had just won a Commonwealth Games silver medal after being defeated in the Sevens final by New Zealand.


Barnes, Burgess, McCalman and Mumm have each been capped, with McCalman becoming SUFC’s latest Wallaby after making his debut during the recent domestic season. They were members of the University First XV that defeated Randwick 46-6 to claim the 2010 Shute Shield.


With 15 of the squad having represented Australia at Sevens, national coach Robbie Deans indicated that it was a definite pathway to Wallaby selection.


“There’s no doubt that over time it’s going to be a more significant contributing pathway to the Wallabies,” Deans said on Thursday. “I heard a commentary where they said the whole Wallaby backline came through the Sevens program and that’s off a lack of emphasis. It’s only really been since 2008 that we’ve put the emphasis back on that program.”


Deans has had his eye on the form of Phipps and the other Sevens players for a while. “One thing you get out of the Sevens program is that they are in the shape of their lives,” he said. “And one other advantage Nick has is that he has played alongside a lot of these blokes.”


Phipps, who becomes the first player from the new Melbourne Rebels Super franchise to make a Wallabies squad, told AAP he was surprised by his selection.


“It’s definitely a surprise seeing as how I will start as the Rebels’ third-choice halfback [behind Sam Cordingley and Richard Kingi],” Phipps said. “I didn’t really expect that.”


Phipps has never met Deans and is yet to play a game of Super rugby. And he’s played just 10 first grade games for Sydney.


“I would have been content just to be playing second or third grade and was shocked how well this year has gone for me,” he told The Telegraph’s Jon Geddes. Now he is getting ready to be introduced to most of his new Wallabies teammates when he goes into camp next week.


“I know a few from Sydney Uni and a couple through Sevens, but that’s about it,” he said.


The squad is: Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Richard Brown, Luke Burgess, Mark Chisholm, Quade Cooper, Rod Davies, Ben Daley, Huia Edmonds, Rocky Elsom (capt), Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Matt Giteau, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Peter Hynes, Van Humphries, Salesi Ma’afu, Pat McCabe, Ben McCalman, Pat McCutcheon, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, Luke Morahan, Dean Mumm, James O’Connor, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Lachie Turner.



The Spring Tour itinerary:

Saturday 30 October: Wallabies v All Blacks, Bledisloe Cup, Hong Kong Stadium, 4.35pm

Saturday 6 November: Wallabies v Wales, James Bevan Trophy, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff 2.30pm

Tuesday 9 November: Wallabies v Leicester Tigers, Welford Road, Leicester 7.30pm

Saturday 13 November: Wallabies v England, Cook Cup, Twickenham Stadium, London 2.30pm

Tuesday 16 November: Wallabies v Munster, Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick 8pm

Saturday 20 November: Wallabies v Italy, Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence 3pm

Saturday 27 November: Wallabies v France, Trophée de Bicentenaries, Stade de France, Paris 8.45pm