James O'Connor (rugby union)

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James O'Connor
James O'Connor 2011 (2).jpg
Date of birth (1990-07-05) 5 July 1990 (age 24)
Place of birth Southport, Queensland, Australia
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 88 kg (13 st 12 lb)[1]
School St Joseph's Nudgee College
Occupation(s) International Rugby Player
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Inside Centre / Wing / Fullback / Fly-half
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
London Irish
correct as of 12 December 2014.
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Western Force
Melbourne Rebels
Queensland Reds
correct as of 15 July 2013.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Australia Schoolboys
correct as of 15 September 2013.
Sevens national teams
Years Club / team Comps
2007–08 Australia

James O'Connor (born 5 July 1990) is an Australian international rugby union player who made his Wallabies debut in 2008.

His Super Rugby professional career began with Western Force in 2008. He moved to Melbourne Rebels in 2012, who released him at the end of the the following season.

The following season he played for English Premiership side London Irish and in the 2014-15 season moved to play for Toulon, France.

Early life[edit]

O'Connor was born in Australia on the Gold Coast.[2] He lived in Auckland for five years as a child until the age of eleven, when he returned to Australia with his family.[3] He became a boarder at St Joseph's Nudgee College in Brisbane's northern suburbs [4][5] In 2006 he suffered a ruptured spleen[6][7] but went on to be part of the Australian Schools representative team that played against England, Samoa and New Zealand in 2007.[8]

O'Connor's parents are from New Zealand, and his maternal grandparents from South Africa. This, along with his Australian birth, meant he was eligible for all three Tri Nations teams.[9] However, his decision to play for the Wallabies, and debut in 2008, meant he became ineligible to play for the All Blacks or Springboks.[10] He also played for the Australian Sevens in 2008.[8]

Professional career[edit]

James O'Connor playing for London Irish in 2014.

O'Connor is a versatile 'utility back'.[8] He said, "I feel more comfortable at 12 as a second ball player. I also like 15. You definitely get a lot of space. I just want to get on the field whether it is 10, 12 or 15."[11] He made his Australian debut in 2008, when he came off the bench as replacement fullback (No.15) against Italy.[11]

O'Connor became the youngest ever Super Rugby debutant at age 17 when he came off the bench for the Western Force against the Queensland Reds in Week 10 of the 2008 Super 14 competition. He completed the season's final three matches running on at inside centre.[9]

In 2008, during his Australian debut,[11] O'Connor scored three tries and helped Australia beat Italy 31–8.[9] In October 2009 O'Connor "took home the Emirates Western Force 2009 'Rookie of the Year' award and was also named the Wallabies 'Rookie of the Year' at the 2009 John Eales Medal dinner."[9]

In 2012 O'Connor commenced a two-year contract with the Melbourne Rebels. His team mates would include Nick Stirzaker, fullback Kurtley Beale,[12][13][14] centre Mitch Inman (Force),[14] and English international Danny Cipriani.[13]

He continued for the Rebels in 2013 and played at Fly-half for the Wallabies in three Tests against the Lions. He was released by the Rebels at the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season.[15][16]

On 28 October 2013, O'Connor published that he was en route to London to play rugby for "a few months".[17]

He was signed by London Irish in October 2013 until the end of the 2013–14 season. He made his debut against Northampton Saints on 3 November and on 4 January scored his first try for the club against Worcester Warriors in a match ending 22-9 to the Exiles with O'Connor scoring all 22 points.

Off-field controversies[edit]

O'Connor has been involved in a number of off-field controversies, attracting criticism from senior members of the Wallabies.[18] Most recently, in September 2013, he was stood down from the Wallabies following an incident in which he was removed from Perth airport by Australian Federal Police.[19] As a result O'Connor missed the final two matches of the 2013 Rugby Championship and was released from his Wallabies contract by the Australian Rugby Union.[20]


In 2012 O'Connor was a member of the Wallabies Test-team leadership group. The groups' other members were: Pat McCabe, Will Genia, James Horwill, and David Pocock. Prior to Robbie Deans departure as head coach, the group met with Wallabies coaching and managerial staff to discuss team strategy, planning and off-field logistics.[21]


  1. ^ "James O'Connor Player Profile". Western Force. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Robinson, Georgina (15 September 2011). "O'Connor schools himself in old memories". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Kitson, Robert (12 October 2011). "Rugby World Cup 2011: Wallabies play on New Zealand's darkest fears". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.james-oconnor.com.au/inside-the-game
  5. ^ http://www.nudgee.com/public/gps-sport/rugby
  6. ^ Badel, Peter (16 June 2009). "O'Connor lucky to be alive". Sunday Telegraph. News Corporation. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Growden, Greg (20 August 2009). "AFL past makes teen gun O'Connor a mark man". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c "Inside the Game". James O'Connor. iSports Star. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Western Force Secure Rising Star O'Connor" (Press release). Western Force. 19 June 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Under IRB regulations, a player becomes permanently committed to a nation upon his first presence in a matchday squad with the country's full national team, "A" national team, or sevens national team. "Regulation 8: Eligibility to Play for National Representative Teams". Regulations Relating to the Game. International Rugby Board. 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2011.  See especially Regulations 8.1 through 8.4.
  11. ^ a b c Harris, Bret (18 February 2009). "James O'Connor gains weight, experience as force for change from Perth". Foxsports. News. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  12. ^ ARU (18 June 2011). "James O'Connor re-signs with Australian Rugby" (Press release). ARU. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Paxinos, Stathi (19 June 2009). "Rebels can utilise talented trio: Macqueen". Age. Fairfax. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Rebels excited by arrival of big guns". ABC News. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  15. ^ Rebels Media Unit (7 July 2013). "Rebels part ways with James O'Connor" (Press release). Melbourne Rebels. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "James O'Connor's future in limbo". ESPN Scrum. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "London-Irish-unveil-James-OConnor-Tuesday". Daily Mail. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  18. ^ David Polkinghorne (14 July 2013). "Cheesed-off Moore unloads on burger run". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  19. ^ Bret Harris (20 September 2013). "Wallabies stand down James O'Connor". The Australian. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  20. ^ Georgina Robinson, Stathi Paxinos (3 October 2013). "James O'Connor released from Wallaby contract". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  21. ^ Growden, Greg (27 June 2012). "Deans delighted to let McCabe take centre stage". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 

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