The Roar
The Roar


ARU: The wrong people are being asked the right question

Roar Guru
16th December, 2012
3732 Reads

I have learnt through credible confidential sources there is an ARU board member and members of the broader Australian rugby community, who have influence on such matters, who do not support Robbie Deans continuing as Wallabies coach into 2013.

This is despite Australian Rugby Union Chairman Michael Hawker stating there was “very little chance” of a change of national coach in his recent interview with The Australian.

If you read into the language used by Hawker – who stated, “There is no view to moving the incumbent on until there is reason to,” and, “There is very little chance of a change” – at no stage has Hawker confirmed Deans will remain 100%.

Furthermore how much credence can be given to these comments when Hawker has exempted himself from the review process?

Robbie Deans’ Wallaby coaching future has been left up to John Eales, George Gregan and Brett Robinson to determine as they form the review panel. Perhaps they might determine there is a reason to change the national coach?

Time will tell, however Hawker, by his own exemption, is providing comment on a subject out of his control.

I am in possession of documentary evidence that strongly indicates at least one ARU board member thinks the Wallabies were lucky in their recent victories over Italy and Wales.

Furthermore, this board member believes Robbie Deans has no idea when it comes to tactics and selections and will leave Australian rugby in a worse place than when he found it and a complete ‘clean out’ is required.

Interestingly though, the ARU board member does not appear to have any idea on who should replace Deans, if he indeed is to be replaced.


I can only interpret from this that the much respected Ewen McKenzie is not a certainty if the position were it to become vacant. This is not a bad thing as McKenzie and any other party should actually have to apply!

It appears the ARU is treading gently but with intent and does not wish to expose the possibility of a new coach until a new CEO is in place. All is calm, move along, nothing to see here!

What alarms me is clearly the ARU has never adopted the notion of succession planning for the position of national coach. I can only interpret the plan was that Deans is the man until further notified.

This is just clear amateurism when you consider how the All Blacks develop their coaches. How long as Steve Hansen been a part of the All Black fold?

What is encouraging is that there is at least a review to determine if Deans is to remain. The manner in which Deans was firstly appointed then re-appointed to the position was inappropriate and should never be repeated.

In considering this information I can only conclude the ARU is taking a leaf straight out of the Australian political arena by forming its own ‘judicial enquiry’ and will take its recommendation on the coaching issue from the Eales, Gregan and Robinson review, which I suspect will come before the announcement of the new CEO.

This will essentially distance the current ARU power-brokers from making the final decision and leaving the new CEO to potentially sack Robbie Deans as one of their first orders of business in the chair if his coaching review is unfavourable.

About the time I came into possession of this evidence I had a long conversation with an associate, who is a former Queensland Red and Wallaby, who appears to be well versed in the current machinations concerning the broader Wallaby playing group.


Without disclosing my documentary evidence, my associate volunteered that it was his understanding there were senior elements of the playing group who liked Deans as a person but not his coaching methods. That there were at times unclear and fortuned favourites.

Furthermore Deans has a total lack of man management skills and failed to develop a genuine homogenous group culture.

What was expressed to me in no uncertain terms by my associate was, in his opinion, Ewen McKenzie was the best coach to fill the role due to his ability to develop a team culture and a game plan that can be executed.

Furthermore, McKenzie is widely respected by many Australian players from outside the Red’s program.

While I support the notion of a panel review, I am not too sure if John Eales, George Gregan and Brett Robinson are best qualified to actually determine who our next national coach should be, as none of this trio have any professional coaching experience.

That is not to say their opinions should not be considered, but don’t we have a raft of successful coaches in this country who understand what the requirements of a successful coach are?

Why are Alan Jones, Dick Marks, Peter Crittle, Bob Dwyer, Rod McQueen and John Connolly not being asked to conduct this national coaching review when they are some of the most successful rugby coaching brains Australia have ever produced?

In my opinion, when it comes the future of the Wallaby coaching position, the wrong people are being asked the right question.


What are the ARU scared of – a qualified informed answer?

Editor’s note: At the time of publishing, The Roar could not confirm the opinion in this Roar of the crowd.