Wasps fly-half Jimmy Gopperth

Gopperth: Shift to summer season would set rugby apart from football

Wasps star Jimmy Gopperth has thrown his weight behind summer rugby and dismisses claims it would sound the death knell for bulked-up forwards.

Gopperth, 36, recently signed on again at Wasps after knocking back offers from overseas and says he would welcome a change of seasons.

He told The Rugby Paper: “COVID-19 has changed lots of things and there’s talk of reorganising Super Rugby and the South African teams coming up north, so everything’s on the table and personally I’d love to move to a summer season up here.

“We can use this period positively or do nothing at all, but one of the best things to come out of this would be to get some solutions globally and get to one calendar, which I think would be better for the whole of world rugby and something the fans would love.

“You look at the start and finish of the Premiership season now, see the crowds with their hats and sunglasses on and it’s a completely different experience.

“I appreciate the arguments over tradition and playing through the winter, but when you’re playing in decent weather it’s brilliant for players and spectators. The energy’s a lot higher and it promotes a better game, so why wouldn’t you want some of that?

“It would break things up from the football over here as well, and as for the arguments about props and second rows not liking heat and fast conditions, are you kidding? Those guys are as fit as anyone these days so they’d adapt pretty quickly and be fine.”

Wasps fly-half Jimmy Gopperth
Stepping into coaching: Jimmy Gopperth coached Nuneaton Old Edwardians with Wasps teammate Ashley Johnson last season. David Rogers/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Gopperth’s decision to remain with Wasps will enable to him to continue the path he has been forging towards an eventual career in coaching.

Having coached Nuneaton Old Edwardians while setting up the Jimmy Gopperth Kicking Academy, the ebullient Kiwi explained: “I’ve created an online lesson plan and a one-to-one facility as well – I’m working with kids right through to professionals.

“Online’s good because people can send me their videos and I can do some detailed analysis and give them great feedback and things to work on.

“I love kicking, always have done, so I’m able to give people great advice and people are always telling me there’s not enough kicking advice out there.

“I just try to give young people the tools to kick the ball properly in a way that’s nice and safe for their body but is also very effective. It’s something I’ll look to get into more when I’m finished playing, but hopefully that won’t be for a good while yet.”

With high-flying Wasps preparing to resume their belated assault on the top four, Gopperth added: “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved and I feel this team is building towards being really successful – I really wanted to be part of that.

“I want to win some trophies and as a player I feel I’ve got a lot more to give. I’m really excited for the future and would love to play until I’m 40.”

NEALE HARVEY

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