MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A panel reviewing the Wallabies’ 2019 season has highlighted the nation’s dearth of elite coaches and called for better alignment between the team and Rugby Australia after a year of off-field friction and one of their worst performances at a World Cup.
A three-man panel interviewed Wallabies players and staff in the wake of the quarter-final exit in Japan and submitted more than 40 suggestions in a report to Rugby Australia (RA).
The governing body offered little detail about the report on Thursday, citing a need for “confidentiality”, but distilled it into a number of “high-level recommendations” focused on high performance, coaching and culture.
“While it is important that the rugby public understands the outcomes of the review, we must also respect the confidentiality and integrity of the process which presents a blueprint for future Wallabies success,” RA Chief Executive Raelene Castle said in a media release.
RA’s appointment of New Zealander Dave Rennie to succeed Michael Cheika as Wallabies coach last month was met with criticism and accusations that the governing body had failed to develop local coaching talent for a number of years.
The review called for “significant attention and development” to coach succession planning from “Academy level to national level”.
The recommendations also included a call for greater alignment between the Wallabies and RA “so that each could be more aware of team and organisational priorities”.
Former coach Cheika made no secret of his fractured relationship with RA after his prompt resignation following the Wallabies’ World Cup exit, saying he had “pretty much got no relationship with the CEO and not much with chairman”.
RA’s relationship with Christian players in the Wallabies squad was also strained following the governing body’s decision to terminate Israel Folau’s contract.
Fundamentalist Christian Folau was sacked in May after he posted a meme on social media that said hell awaits “homosexuals” and other groups.
Folau settled his unfair dismissal case with RA and Super Rugby team the New South Wales Waratahs earlier this month.
The review said RA needed to ensure the Wallabies’ identity and values included “policies, processes and mechanisms to build trust and accountability within the team.”
RA said it would share the report’s findings with Rennie, who starts his role in June.
“The report shows there are clearly areas needing development and improvement,” Castle added.
“Some of these can be addressed quickly and easily, while others will take time and a collective desire among our professional teams to implement and create real change.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford