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Rugby AU publishes recommendations from 2019 Wallabies review

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19th December, 2019
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The key recommendations from the report into the Wallabies’ 2019 season have been released, with coaching, team leadership and culture, and national high-performance alignment identified as the three main areas requiring attention.

The report, conducted by an independent panel of Pat Howard, Nathan Sharpe and Bo Hanson, made over 40 suggestions covering much of the Wallabies set-up, only the key ones of which were publicised by Rugby Australia. They were categorised under the three aforementioned headings for the purpose of the release by Rugby AU.

A number of points recommend formalising structures and processes which outsiders would have assumed already had proper due process in place, including defining and selecting the team’s leadership group, and developing high-performance plans.

The coaching section is noticeable by its brevity. Under a subheading which reads “Coach succession planning requires significant attention and development”, there are just two points:

  • Coach and high performance staff development – focus from academy level to national level
  • Develop detailed coach ‘depth chart’ and individual development plans

There is also a focus on the wellbeing of players, with a couple of points pointing to a need to address that area, including by providing better access to psychology services.

It mightn’t come as much of a surprise, given the now-infamous bust-up between former coach Michael Cheika and current CEO Raelene Castle at the World Cup, to see a recommendation calling for “greater alignment between the Wallabies team and organisational priorities”.

In announcing the summary of the report, Castle said the report shows the need to develop a national plan to ensure the success of the Wallabies.

“We needed to look at what learnings we could take from our 2019 campaign from the viewpoint of the entire organisation to enable us to best prepare our teams for future success,” Castle said.


“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. As such, we are releasing only a summary of in excess of 40 recommendations made.

“The report shows there are clearly areas needing development and improvement. 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.”

The high level recommendations of the review are as follows:

2019 Wallabies Review

High Performance Alignment
Employ a “ground up” approach to prepare players for international rugby with agreed alignment and delivery between Super Rugby programs and the Wallabies program across key focus areas:

  • Formalised high performance plans that underpin the commitment of each organisation to create winning teams at Super Rugby and national level, including key measurable deliverables for each organisation
  • Player physical and skill development targets
  • Shared performance data management and analysis
  • Player succession planning
  • Integrated academies with talent management plans and skill-specific coaching support
  • Increased medical, integrity and welfare support

Coach succession planning requires significant attention and development:

  • Coach and high performance staff development – focus from academy level to national level
  • Develop detailed coach ‘depth chart’ and individual development plans

Leadership and Culture

  • Ensure there is a clearly defined Wallabies leadership group, to be selected using a formal process
  • Provide a formalised leadership development plan for the Wallabies leadership group
  • Ensure the Wallabies team identity and values include policies, processes and mechanisms to build trust and accountability within the team
  • Provide greater access to professional sports psychology services for Wallabies players
  • Build and enhance team culture and identity by connecting with Wallabies teams of the past through further integration of Classic Wallabies into training camp and team environments
  • Foster greater alignment between the Wallabies team and Rugby Australia administration so that each can be more aware of team and organisational priorities and goals and capitalise on opportunities to benefit the sport