MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia will set up a National Coaching Panel to oversee coaching development and education in a bid to strengthen the grass-roots and return the Wallabies to the top of world rugby.
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika and former World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer met with the Australian Rugby Union’s high performance boss Ben Whitaker and other top rugby brains in Sydney on Thursday to begin thrashing out an over-arching coaching plan from junior to elite level.
“I want the guy who is coaching our under-6’s to feel like he’s part of an Australian coaching fraternity that has certain fundamentals ... that we’re proud of, and then they’re allowed to express themselves as well with the way they play the game, and the same with our Super Rugby guys, our club coaches and our sub-district coaches,” Cheika told reporters.
“They’re looking after the biggest asset we have, which is our players.”
Since the Wallabies’ surprise run to the 2015 World Cup final, Australian rugby has been in the doldrums, with 3-0 series whitewashes by both England and New Zealand last year, and major struggles in the Super Rugby competition.
The cash-strapped ARU is poised to cut one of the country’s five Super Rugby teams to save costs and, it hopes, to improve the competitiveness of the other sides, none of whom have managed a single win over New Zealand opponents all season.
Pundits have complained the game is suffering for a lack of resources at grass-roots level and bemoaned the standard of the current crop of Super Rugby coaches.
The ARU will spend the next 10 days drawing up a draft proposal which will be sent to the provincial unions and Super Rugby teams to provide input.
Cheika said he hoped to have a program ready to run within 100 days.
”There’s not many things we do just for the game, unfortunately. This one’s just for the game.
“There’s no politics.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury