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Thread: A coach-less Wallabies team at the World Cup? It's not as mad as it sounds

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    A coach-less Wallabies team at the World Cup? It's not as mad as it sounds

    Bret Harris article: (https://www.theguardian.com/sport/20...d-as-it-sounds)


    A coach-less Wallabies team at the World Cup? It's not as mad as it sounds

    With viable replacements for Michael Cheika scarce, it might be time to look outside the box


    With Rugby Australia’s board scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the immediate future of Michael Cheika, one argument being trotted out for the retention of the Wallabies coach is that there is no genuine alternative. Most leading coaches are already locked up for the World Cup in Japan next year and Rugby Australia would need to resort to someone who has not been involved in the international game in recent years. Such a move would carry its own risks and rewards.

    But is there another option Rugby Australia should consider? If a suitable alternative to Cheika could not be found, might the Wallabies be better off without a coach? There is a precedent. In 1978 Wallabies coach Daryl Haberecht suffered a heart attack in the lead-up to the third Test against the All Blacks at Eden Park. The All Blacks had won the first two Tests and the Wallabies were desperate to avoid a series whitewash.

    Former Wallabies coach and then Queensland coach Bob Templeton was in Auckland at the time and offered to step into the breach and coach the team for the third Test, but Wallabies captain Tony Shaw rejected Templeton’s approach. The team closed ranks and coached themselves to an historic 30-16 win, which featured a record four-try haul to backrower Greg Cornelsen. Regarded as one of the greatest victories in Australian rugby history, the coach-less win was a milestone, sparking the rise of Australian rugby in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Should Rugby Australia consider a similar approach for the World Cup year, which involves just five Tests before the tournament kicks off in September? Cheika has guided the Wallabies to victory in just 17 of 42 Tests, an appalling record which would almost certainly have led to the sacking of his immediate predecessors. If the coach is not producing acceptable results, why have a coach at all?

    Former Wallabies 1999 World Cup-winning coach Rod Macqueen set out to develop a team that was capable of coaching itself. With the likes of John Eales, George Gregan and Tim Horan, among others, leading the way, the Wallabies became a self-determining team. Of course, this approach has the potential to backfire spectacularly if the players are not fit for the task and it represents a huge gamble in a World Cup year. But whether the current senior Wallabies possess the same leadership qualities as Shaw, Eales or George Gregan is an intriguing question.

    At the start of the international season in June, Cheika proclaimed he was empowering the senior Wallabies with more say over strategies and tactics. Their poor 4-9 win-loss record this year – the worst since 1958 – would suggest that the move towards player power has been unsuccessful. But it would have been difficult for the players to make a constructive contribution to the way the team played when the side was constantly chopped and changed, including three starting playmakers in Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua – crucial on-field directors.

    Wallabies captain Michael Hooper led the NSW Waratahs to the Super Rugby title in 2014 and the Wallabies to the 2015 World Cup final, but there has been criticism of his leadership this year, particularly his decision not to kick for penalty goal in the 9-6 loss to Wales in Cardiff last month.

    Hooper and the likes of fellow backrower David Pocock and Foley, a vice-captain, are the best leaders in the Wallabies camp and an effective leadership group would be capable of running the team with the help of an independent selection panel, specialist assistant coaches and a strong manager, who ensured discipline and the team’s culture was maintained.

    In the modern game a team certainly requires the expertise of a back-up staff to make the side function, but does it really need a head coach if the players are capable of coaching themselves?

    It may be that Rugby Australia genuinely believes Cheika can turn things around just as he did in 2015 after taking over from Ewen McKenzie. Or maybe they will make changes after meeting with Cheika in Sydney next week, either to the head coaching position or the assistants.

    But if Rugby Australia is baulking at changing the head coach mainly because of the perceived lack of a viable alternative, then perhaps they have not canvassed all of the options, including the idea of the players coaching themselves. The Wallabies have done it without a coach before. Can the spirit of 1978 save the team again?

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    Legend Contributor brokendown gunfighter's Avatar
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    well,by how they play,it seems the coaches instructions are ignored anyway

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    Quote Originally Posted by brokendown gunfighter View Post
    well,by how they play,it seems the coaches instructions are ignored anyway
    The one time Cheika has said that the team didn't follow his instructions was the 2nd half in Salta. Most of the rest of the time they seems to follow a gameplan of sorts, even if it's a boneheaded gameplan.

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    They are already clueless and directionless, may as well be coachless too.

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    It’s really coming to something if having no coach at all is better than the incumbent.

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    Pull together as a team???? That's joke of the year.

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    What a pointless bit of fluff that "article" is. Just look at the names - Tony Shaw, George Gregan, John Eales.

    OTOH - Hooper, Foley, Pocock. Seems unfair to lump Pocock with those two, though. He'd fit better in the first group.

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    I would consider a coach who likes to concentrate on players' individual skills and instinctive team-play. So someone in the Bob Dwyer mould. It wouldn't really be a team coach per se, but an advisor to get the players playing properly individually and concentrating on lifting their own games. Guys like Hodgo or Victor Matfield also have that particular talent; to get a player to lift and the team to change style or direction if things aren't going their way.

    Certainly with some of the rubbish the Wallabies are serving up- I think a looser-structured approach, forcing the players to use their brains, think on their feet and improve their individual instincts/skills/natural team-work to be able to implement it- couldn't be any worse than what we have now?

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    Last edited by chibi; 06-12-18 at 16:07.


    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chibi View Post
    Certainly with some of the rubbish the Wallabies are serving up- I think a looser-structured approach, forcing the players to use their brains, think on their feet and improve their individual instincts/skills/natural team-work to be able to implement it- couldn't be any worse than what we have now?
    You've made the mistake of thinking that anybody who is good on their feet, has a brain, has rugby instinct and/or has field vision is still playing rugby that makes them eligible to be selected. I can only think of pocock and toomua. You can't play rugby with 2 guys.

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    C'mon the

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    I think the biggest mistake is thinking the RA makes astute financial decisions. It seems the more they spend the worse performance gets. No money on coaching couldbe a winner.

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    One thing I can't get my head around. Maybe someone can explain it to me.


    How is it any other Coach, and player, for that matter? In any sport - including Rugby - can have a contract torn up for non or poor performance.

    Yet Cheika apparently gets his contract paid out in full.

    Is this because of the negotiation he did when he was replacing Link?

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    Quote Originally Posted by .X. View Post
    One thing I can't get my head around. Maybe someone can explain it to me.


    How is it any other Coach, and player, for that matter? In any sport - including Rugby - can have a contract torn up for non or poor performance.

    Yet Cheika apparently gets his contract paid out in full.

    Is this because of the negotiation he did when he was replacing Link?
    Absolutely pathetic isnt it.

    Just like John O'Neils ridiculous payout
    Hoopers 5 year deal
    The Pocock sabbatical

    Nothing makes sense. They seem to reward mediocrity and punish anyone who has an inkling of success from time to time eg. Dean's and even Eddie Jones when I think about it. Let's be honest Knuckles mainly versed shit teams, used pretty much Eddie Jones same team and played Staniforth on the wing instead of inside centre, he was a muppet. And let's remember Ewen Mckenzie looked to be turning the Wallabies around big time before the NSW brigade waved the guillotine at him..

    The whole place needs to be burnt down and rebuilt. FURA and Clyne for this..

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    Well said James.

    Quote Originally Posted by SPaRTAN View Post
    Absolutely pathetic isnt it.

    Just like John O'Neils ridiculous payout
    Hoopers 5 year deal
    The Pocock sabbatical

    Nothing makes sense. They seem to reward mediocrity and punish anyone who has an inkling of success from time to time eg. Dean's and even Eddie Jones when I think about it. Let's be honest Knuckles mainly versed shit teams, used pretty much Eddie Jones same team and played Staniforth on the wing instead of inside centre, he was a muppet. And let's remember Ewen Mckenzie looked to be turning the Wallabies around big time before the NSW brigade waved the guillotine at him..

    The whole place needs to be burnt down and rebuilt. FURA and Clyne for this..
    Knuckles had a win rate of 64% and coached a win against the ABs who were smashing up the Tri Nations. Knuckles downfall was that he wasn’t from NSW so had no support from the SMH and had shit props to work with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bakkies View Post
    Well said James.



    Knuckles had a win rate of 64% and coached a win against the ABs who were smashing up the Tri Nations. Knuckles downfall was that he wasn’t from NSW so had no support from the SMH and had shit props to work with.
    Sorry mate - I am confused.

    Knuckles = John Connolly

    Link = Ewan McKenzie

    Is it possible you have the 2 Coaches mixed up?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bakkies View Post
    Well said James.



    Knuckles had a win rate of 64% and coached a win against the ABs who were smashing up the Tri Nations. Knuckles downfall was that he wasn’t from NSW so had no support from the SMH and had shit props to work with.
    Never rated him, he changed nothing to an aging outdated team featuring Larkhim and Gregan and copped one of the worst performances at a world cup, along side 1995 ofcourse. It took a new coach which was Robbie Deans with fresh ideas to bring in all the new comers that should have been blooded during Knuckles tenure and completly freshened up the team, most of the players Dean's bought through have had long careers under the subsequent coaches Link and ofcourse Cheika who have struggled to build their own teams, and we all know how Link fell on his sword when he tried.

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