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Alan Jones changed the role of Wallaby coach

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    When Alan Jones took over the Wallaby coaching job in 1984, it became a position of importance virtually overnight.

    Up until then the position was regarded as a necessary evil, officially known as the assistant manager, with a seat at the back of the room at after-match receptions.

    The Wallaby manager was the king-pin, he sat at the top table and answered media questions, he was chairman of selectors.

    Jones dramatically changed the pecking order en route to the only Australian Grand Slam and regaining the Bledisloe Cup, during his watch.

    Since then the Wallaby coach is the go-to man, just as it should have been all along. Most rugby fans have never known the manager’s name after the Jones breakthrough.

    And still don’t.

    Bobby Dwyer (1988-1996) followed Jones, before Greg Smith (1996-1997) kicked off the professional era, then Rod Macqueen (1997-2001), Eddie Jones (2001-2005), John Connolly (2006-2007) into the current Robbie Deans since 2008.

    Each had their own way of directing Australian rugby, with Macqueen the undisputed king capturing the 1999 World Cup, the Bledisloe Cup, the Tri-Nations, and the historic 2-1 series win over the Lions.

    Deans has the chance to emulate Macqueen this season – a huge ask.

    It’s Deans’ make or break second half of the year with the Lions, the Bledisloe, the Rugby Championship, and the end-of-year tour to the northern hemisphere before his contract runs out.

    But the outcome of the Lions series is his most critical. Win that and the rest of the year takes on an new meaning.

    Lose it, and there’s every possibility Deans’ contract will be terminated on the spot.

    And as luck would have it, Ewen McKenzie and Jake White are both knocking on Deans’ door.

    Yet they are also Deans’ insurance policy to put a winning Wallaby squad onto the paddock.

    McKenzie turned a red rabble into a championship winning side in 2011, and they will be contenders again this year.

    As will the Brumbies, thanks to White turning a player-power self-destructive squad into a tightly-knit championship contender in a season and a bit.

    And because McKenzie and White have been so successful, they have produced the form footballers, and it’s that form that can keep Deans his job.

    The bulk of the Wallaby squad to meet the Lions should come from the Reds and the Brumbies,

    But if a large percentage of Waratahs who haven’t been pulling their weight for Michael Cheika sneak into the squad, Deans could be in trouble.

    To prove the point, tonight’s Brumbies line-up includes 12 probable-possible Wallabies – skipper Ben Mowen, George Smith, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Dan Palmer, Peter Kimlin, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe, and Jesse Mogg,

    Tomorrow afternoon there will be another 12 Reds on Wallaby selection show – Will Genia, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Greg Holmes, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz, Quade Cooper, Ben Tapuai, Dom Shipperley, and Anthony Fainga’a.

    Those two sides should provide the bulk of the Wallaby squad on form alone, and a fascinating head-to-head to top the Australian Conference for an automatic play-off berth.

    They will also give a guideline as to the next Wallaby coach if Robbie Deans calls halt in December, or is halted.

    The season is just starting to get interesting on so many fronts.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • April 12th 2013 @ 5:24am
      ScrumJunkie said | April 12th 2013 @ 5:24am | ! Report

      Robbie lost his chance to emulate Rod Macqueen when the wallabies failed at the world cup. Even if he beats the Lions, he still hasn’t matched Macqueen.

      Lucky for him he’ll probably get a second chance at a world cup, would we ever do that for an Aussie coach?

    • April 12th 2013 @ 5:33am
      Johnno said | April 12th 2013 @ 5:33am | ! Report

      Alan Jones to be honest is my favourite coach of Australian rugby in the last 30 year’s I love the bloke. He is so bright, funny, and witty.. I listen to Alan every morning. He has a wide range of guests.

      And he invites rugby players on past and present and members of his team. Blokes like Micheal Lynagh, has come on, and other’s to talk about the wallabies. He did come pretty close to getting the wallaby job back agin in 2007, but was beaten by Deans.

      Funny in that 1984 Bledisloe cup decider in 1984 at the SCG, which the AB’S won 25-24 , it was Dean’s boot that was the difference that match. If Alan Jones got his way with the selectors that day and put Micheal Lynagh a specialist goal kicker at full-back I reckon they would of won.

      Alan Jones in 1987 rugby world cup semi final at concord oval, the score was locked at 24-24 all with extra time looming, then Serge Blanco broke Alan Jones and Wallaby heart’s with a try in the last play of the game. I went with my dad, as a little boy on that day, it was the first live rugby match I had ever been too, and ever watched full stop, as at my school before i went to a private school I had only seen and played rugby league.
      And wow, glad they don’t play at concord oval anymore, so hard to find a car park out there, awful.
      He left the wallaby job after the 1987 wallaby tour. He picked some good young rookies, like Brian Smith.

      Who knows Alan Jones could of gone to Eden Park and got the world cup on top of his Bledisloe cup win in 1986 across the ditch.
      The last time the wallabies won was still in the Alan Jones era , 1986, wow time flies but still the more tinges stay the same. We haven’t beaten the AB’S there in a long time, when Alan Jones was in charge. The 1986 Bledisloe Cup victory against New Zealand in New Zealand was the first time, that had been achieved in 39 years.

      Alan Jones also head coach of the Balmain tigers from 1991-93 .

      Alan Jones was a mighty 1st 15 rugby coach at The King’s School (TKS), winning a GPS title in 1974 with TKS being undefeated.
      For those that don’t know Alan Jones is a born and bread Queenslander.

      Alan Jones certainly became the public face of Australian rugby when he was wallaby coach, and started that process where the Head coach really became the public face of the team. And still today out of ex wallaby head coaches, Alan Jones is in public more on a daily basis and more people speak about him than say Rod Macqueen, or Bib Dwyer, or knuckles Connolly.

      • Columnist

        April 12th 2013 @ 6:11am
        David Lord said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:11am | ! Report

        Johnno, just to expand on your excellent recall of Alan Jones. It was late 1987, and both Alan and I had been booked to speak at a Castle Hill RSL sporting dinner. That afternoon Alan was sacked as Wallaby coach, and Bobby Dwyer reinstated, Alan was obviously the go-to man. I just introduced him and bailed out. Alan had 400-500 spellbound for 90 minutes with not a note, it was all off the cuff, and one of the very best after-dinner speeches I’ve ever heard.

        My late son Andrew was in the audience, 23 at the time, he had never heard Alan speak before, and he couldn’t sleep a wink that night – Alan had him literally sitting on the edge of his seat.

        That’s why Johnno, I’ve always contended Alan Jones was firstly a champion motivator, then a coach. He had the incredible knack of making people really believe in themselves, to lift when pressured, to go beyond what they thought was the max. A truly remarkable bloke, still is, always will be.

        • April 12th 2013 @ 6:24am
          Johnno said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:24am | ! Report

          I agree David Alan Jones really has the gift of the gab on how to motivate people , he is top notch like Laurie Lawrence, Alan has that ability to get people to lift beyond there normal capabilities. I can see why your late son, wouldn’t of slept that night.
          Sometimes when Alan Jones put together a 5 minute chat on something on the radio it leaves me fired up or thinking about the subject for hours.
          He knows sports stars from all walks of life. Heck just before the SBW VS Francois Botha fight a few days before the fight, SBW went on the Alan Jones show, heck he pumped SBW up in 5 minutes talking to him, got him more motivated, and more self belief.. I have heard other Australian sportsman talk about Alan Jones, and his ability to motivate them, he just has that knack they say of when you are out there on the field you just don’t want to let Alan Jones down,and you give everything for him when your out there on the sports field, and don’t want too let him down.

          He is a remarkable bloke, no question and he is a motivator 1st and a coach 2nd agreed.

      • April 12th 2013 @ 7:54pm
        Carvin said | April 12th 2013 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

        I am lost for words!??!!?

    • April 12th 2013 @ 5:45am
      Jerry said | April 12th 2013 @ 5:45am | ! Report

      “Who knows Alan Jones could of gone to Eden Park and got the world cup on top of his Bledisloe cup win in 1986 across the ditch.”

      Well, indeed who knows? But the fact that NZ was 20 points better than the side that beat Australia and that the Wallabies lost to NZ by 14 points (4 tries to 1) in Sydney a month later suggests he wouldn’t have.

      • April 12th 2013 @ 5:52am
        Johnno said | April 12th 2013 @ 5:52am | ! Report

        Ah yes but Alan knew how to win in NZ, and who knows it would of been a totally different energy in NZ. And the fact he beat them on home soil in NZ, really would of got the AB’S wobbly and the dreaded chocker tag may of happened, on that day in the final at Eden Park, as Alan Jones men would of been greeted with fear, hostility, and a passion to beat them, he always riled the NZ press up when he was the coach, he really got under there skins. A world cup final is still a very different energy to a bledisloe, even back then. And Alan knew how to win the close games a lot. And matched he didn’t he went mighty close to winning.

        • April 12th 2013 @ 6:08am
          Jerry said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:08am | ! Report

          He lost in NZ just as much and while that 86 Bledisloe win was a great achievement, they were playing against a hugely disprupted NZ side with most of the team suspended for the first test and then trying to integrate two disparate groups both on and off the field.

          The dreaded ‘chocker’ tag didn’t exist back then (in fact the term ‘choke’ wasn’t even well known in NZ or Aus) because there was NO RWC history and, from the way the AB’s played in that final, they weren’t feeling a lot of pressure. Quite simply, that was the most dominant team in RWC history – no team got closer than 20 points and that was in the days of 4 point tries. Never say never, but it’s hugely unlikely that Aus was gonna do anything but lose heavily had they made the final.

          • April 12th 2013 @ 6:13am
            mania said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:13am | ! Report

            86 was the year the splinter group of ABs called the cavaliers got suspened from AB’s wasnt it?

            • April 12th 2013 @ 6:18am
              Jerry said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:18am | ! Report

              Yeah, the Cavaliers were all suspended for the first Bledisloe test (won by Aus) and back for the 2nd and 3rd tests (NZ won the 2nd, Aus won the decider).

          • April 12th 2013 @ 6:21am
            richard said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:21am | ! Report

            Jerry,you have to admit Johnno is good value entrtainment wise.Re Johnno,while the 1986 Wallabies were a good side,you did catch NZ on the rebound with a Cavaliers tour to SA that disrupted the AB’s.The AB’s were forced to blood a large number of new players v an Aussie team at the peak of its powers.And if you think Alan Jones team could have beaten the AB’s in the WC Final,then you are seriously delusional.That AB team would have annihalated the wobblies.

            • April 12th 2013 @ 6:27am
              Johnno said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:27am | ! Report

              richard France did a lot better than the world cup final 1987 indicated it was a close match, the score line blew out a little but it was actually a tight match, France were in that game. And they only just beat the wallabies on the death. But Alan Jones did have the ability to get under the All Blacks skin, and all of NZ when he was coach, choke or no choke. Anything could of happened with Alan Jones in charge in a world cup final.
              Read Jonestown you will get some good and interesting insights into what drives Alan Jones and what makes Alan Jones tick.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 6:39am
                Jerry said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:39am | ! Report

                Uh…it wasn’t that close.

                NZ were up 9-0 at halftime, France got on the board with a penalty early in the second half but NZ had gotten out to 15-3 with 20 minutes to play and then scored two tries in 3 minutes to put the result beyond doubt. It was 29-3 at one point, with France scoring a late consolation try.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 6:48am
                richard said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:48am | ! Report

                Johnno,they may have just beaten your WB’s,but they were beaten quite comprehensively by the AB’s.In the context of the times – it was still 4 points for a try- it was a shellacking.

                As Jerry says,it wasn’t that close.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 6:51am
                Johnno said | April 12th 2013 @ 6:51am | ! Report

                The scorline was misleading just as statistics can be misleading, France were a lot closer to the AB’s that day than the score board indicated, they gave them a fright. The AB’s were the better team but there was little in it, they also got the tough 50/50 ref calls in the 1987 final too. France gave it there all that day, just as 2011 they were unlucky too.
                There was a lot of tension too in 1987, as the 1980’s tension was high between NZ and france due to 1980’s NZ PM David Lange and there conflicting views on nuclear testing in the pacific at mururoa atoll, and after the sinking of the rainbow warrior in Auckland by french secret agents in 1985,.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 7:02am
                Jerry said | April 12th 2013 @ 7:02am | ! Report

                Ah this is pointless – it’s like a turing test.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 7:05am
                mania said | April 12th 2013 @ 7:05am | ! Report

                jerry – so does he pass? are u convinced your talking to a person?

              • Roar Guru

                April 12th 2013 @ 8:35am
                peeeko said | April 12th 2013 @ 8:35am | ! Report

                Don’t waste your time Jerry, I watched it numerous times, you are right the AB were far superior that year

              • April 12th 2013 @ 10:04am
                The Battered Slav said | April 12th 2013 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                NOTE: my last comment was rejected by the roar mods so I’ve redone it in a slightly more diplomatic fashion, hopefully this doesn’t upset Aunty Mod’s sensibilities too much.

                I read Jonestown a while ago Johnno, and have followed the life of this odious cretin for some time.

                While Alan Jones is clearly a very intelligent, driven and complex individual, he is also a megalomanical narcissist who emotionally abuses people for the sake of control and his own gratification.

                He found it difficult to retain the respect of many of his players, and has trouble handling interpersonal relationships when he is not the controlling force (see Fitzy, Ella Campo etc).

                Everything Alan Jones has or will ever do is for the sole benefit of Alan Jones, not the Wallabies players, not Australian rugby and in the case of his broadcasting, not the greater public good. Classic case of narcissistic personality disorder. I find it impossible to respect a somebody like this, particularly when he wields so much control over so many unthinking people, who will blindly believe any rubbish that he spews forth, which really is spewed forth in quite prodigious quantities.

                Not too sure why any thinking person would have any time for Jonesy quite frankly.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 10:14am
                Johnno said | April 12th 2013 @ 10:14am | ! Report

                Battered Slav

                I love Alan very much. I listen to him every morning. He is intelligent , he gets good radio ratings.
                And he does talk about lots of issues, and does talk about sport a lot on his program amongst many other things. He invites entertainment groups ,and people from all walks of life.
                He has sportstars like Ian Thrope ,Matt Micham, Brett Lee, Lucas Neil was on yesterday, Matt Hayden, and SBW went on before his fight vs Botha 2 days before. And SBW and Alan Jones got on well. SBW called Alan sir immediately , from the start of the chat.

                He gets ex-wallabies like Micheal Lynagh on, who gets on well with him, so he does get on with ex-players he has coached.

                So I think your being harsh on Alan Jones Battered Slav, while many have that opinion, mine is different . Wayne Smith has gone on many times to talk about the state of Australian rugby. And Alan Jones has dons some wonderful things in telling people about the dangers of Coal Seam Gas, amazing the stuff he knows about it, as where Alan Jones grew up in QLD has been badly impacted by Coal Seam Gas production. So Alan is well liked by a wide cross-section in society and is intelligent as you said.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 12:50pm
                Sage said | April 12th 2013 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                So very well said Mr Slav. An empty talker is A. Jones. Yes he has the gab gift and yes he can motivate. He has learnt very well his spiv-craft and the emotional chords to play and there is some skill in that, granted, ignoring the motivation. He is however, a hollowman.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 2:17pm
                richard said | April 12th 2013 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                Johnno @ 6.27 am -no thanks,I’m currently reading Sir Ted’s book,to be followed by Sir Richie’s.Whie I do rate Allan Jones as a fine coach,if I was going to read any Aussie rugby coaches bio,it would be McQueen’s.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 7:59pm
                Carvin said | April 12th 2013 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

                I prefer not to think about what makes Allan Jones tick. But I’ll think I’ll move on from this debate.

            • April 15th 2013 @ 3:47pm
              BetterRedThanDead said | April 15th 2013 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

              I was a schoolboy on tour in NZ and went to all three games in 1986 and ah, the memories… I have never witnessed so many crying Kiwi’s. It was beautiful.


    • April 12th 2013 @ 7:26am
      Rugby Tragic said | April 12th 2013 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      Johnno, sorry but the RWC 1987 final was not even close. France got belted both on the scoreboard and in the game. They were never in it. 1987 All Blacks were dominated by Aucklanders then coached by John Hart (another great motivator).

      2011 final was very different and the result could have gone either way.

      I was fortunate enough to be there on both occasions (in fact only missed 2 of the RWC tournaments since the competition started.

      IMO in 1987 the All Blacks played an up tempo game that was foreign to most international rugby teams of that era, well before its time.

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    • April 12th 2013 @ 7:26am
      Rugby Tragic said | April 12th 2013 @ 7:26am | ! Report

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    • April 12th 2013 @ 8:28am
      Train Without A Station said | April 12th 2013 @ 8:28am | ! Report


      I disagree with your comment that Jones changed the position. Bob Dwyer held the role prior to Jones and was never one to take a back seat. Word has it his first team address when he was appointed the second time was something along the lines of “…As I was saying before I was interrupted….”

      • April 12th 2013 @ 8:39am
        The Battered Slav said | April 12th 2013 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        Yes thanks, I’ll much sooner laud B Dwyer over Alan Jones as a great Australian coach.

        Alan Jones’ record would not look quite so impressive if he didn’t have players like Ella and Campo at his disposal, clearly two of the best Australia has ever put in Gold, not to mention numerous other players in this team.

        However I guess one could make the same argument for any coach, that he’s only ever as good as his players.

      • Columnist

        April 12th 2013 @ 9:42am
        David Lord said | April 12th 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Not correct TWAS, Bob Dwyer was only second in command to the Wallaby manager of the day from 1982 to 1983, then Alan Jones broke the manager power structure in 1984 to 1987, and Bob took over again, but in control second time round.

        • April 12th 2013 @ 12:39pm
          Train Without A Station said | April 12th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

          You can take that one up with Bob, David. I merely read that in his book, “Full Time”.

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