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Thread: Clyne quits over Wallabies fallout

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    Clyne quits over Wallabies fallout

    Clyne quits over Wallabies fallout

    Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne will step down once a suitable replacement has been found

    Wayne Smith Senior Sport Writer
    October 24, 2019

    Cameron Clyne will step down as chairman of Rugby Australia — but not just yet.

    In the aftermath of the Wallabies’ exit from the Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage last Saturday, there have been widespread calls for the heads of Clyne and RA chief executive Raelene Castle.

    It is not expected that the push to get rid of Castle will gain any traction because only the RA directors can take such action and the feeling of the board is that she was one of the few people who actually stood up to Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

    Whatever Cheika might have said about having “no relationship” with Castle, it is understood they had continued to speak up until two weeks ago when she was forced to pull him into line. Until then, they had a strained but workable relationship, although Cheika rarely sought out, let alone accepted, advice from anyone.

    It is understood the argument centered around Castle insisting that Cheika agree to follow through on a commitment he had made to have the Wallabies attend a function at Australia’s Tokyo embassy on the Wednesday night before the crucial Wales pool match.

    “Raelene has had to put up with so much shit from Cheika and then for him to come out and say that they had no relationship is disgraceful,” a RA board member told The Australian yesterday.

    There are moves afoot to replace Clyne as chairman but the manoeuvres are ones he is aware of and fully comfortable with. It is understood three vacancies will need to be filled at the RA annual general meeting in April for Brett Robinson and Paul McLean, while the vacancy caused by the resignation of former board member Ann Sherry is yet to be filled.

    The nominations committee already is scouring for replacements but, with deputy chairman Robinson having served his allotted maximum term of nine years, the intention is to parachute a future chairman onto the board in the process of naming the three replacements. Once his successor is up to speed, Clyne is then expected to stand down.

    It is understood that Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, the man who has bankrolled the Western Force for the past two years, is not on the list of possible replacement chairmen.

    This is, at least, how RA has war-gamed its succession plan. Whether its thinking stands up any better than did Cheika’s game plan against England remains to be seen. Clyne has a zero rating with the Australian rugby public following the shambolic axing of the Western Force in 2017 and the continued failure of Cheika and the Wallabies is, in large part, to be laid at his door and that of the remainder of the board.

    It is understood the board, in weighing up whether to terminate Cheika’s contract a year ago, decided it could not afford to pay him out his contract to the tune of $1 million and, in the absence of any workable interim coaches — former Wallabies coach John Connolly evidently was not viewed as acceptable — opted to press on with him, but under tight conditions.

    All the reforms it had intended to introduce immediately following the World Cup — restricting the influence of the Wallabies coach to the national team only and even then removing his right to name his own assistant coaching staff and key team management positions — were brought forward 12 months.

    So a director of rugby — Scott Johnson — was put in place to take over all the non-Wallabies tasks Cheika had appropriated over the previous four years, a selection panel appointed and the high performance unit was overhauled, leading in turn to a huge improvement in the performances of the Australian Under 18 and Under 20 sides.

    The Wallabies strength and conditioning coach Dean Benton not only ensured the Wallabies were fitter than they had ever been but he was asked to “teach the teachers” to ensure that the fitness levels of the four Australian Super Rugby sides were also raised to new heights.

    The irony is that RA believes its high-performance structure is the best it has ever been during the professional era — though still far from perfect — but it was all brought undone because of a stubborn coach and a “dud” game plan.

    Cheika a year ago had given the board every assurance he intended to make changes to the way the Wallabies were playing and in the end he was given every assistance he requested.

    Castle on ABC radio said Rugby Australia had little option but to make changes to support Cheika.

    “We had to make some changes at the end of last year. We had a 50 per cent win record. That was not acceptable from the board’s point of view,” she said.

    “We needed to make some changes to ensure we saw improvement in (the) Wallabies’ performance.

    “At the end of the day that decision was made to support Michael into the Rugby World Cup (and) to give him all the support that he could have to enable the Wallabies to put their best foot forward,” she said.

    Yet for all of Cheika’s shortcomings, the highly-paid Wallabies also need to be held to account for their failure to win the critical moments in the England Test.

    Even allowing for their tactical shortcomings, the Wallabies still bounced back from 17-6 after 29 minutes to trail 17-16 in the 43rd minute, only to immediately hand the advantage back to England with a poor defensive read that allowed England prop Kyle Sinckler to power over for a simple try. Even then, the Wallabies again came back and won a penalty directly in front of the England posts and instead of taking the gift three points on offer to take the score to 23-19, opted for a scrum. Isi Naisarani drove off the back of it, got to within a metre of the tryline but was dispossessed. And that was as close as Australia would come.

    It is not expected that the departure of Cheika and the resignation of NSW Rugby Union chief executive Andrew Hore will impact on the coming court battle RA will fight with former Wallabies fullback Israel Folau early next year.

    Hore has indicated a willingness to see the matter through to the end and will fly back from New Zealand, where he has taken the job as boss of the Auckland Blues, to assist in the case.

    Cheika, meanwhile, has provided RA with a statement on the Folau matter for the original code of conduct hearing and was not expected to do any of the heavy lifting during the court case.

    The review process promised by Castle in the aftermath of the quarter-final defeat will be announced within a couple of days. She has already nominated Johnson to head up the inquiry although there is a growing push for an independent panel, one presided over by former Australian Rugby Union chairman Dick McGruther, to be brought in to head up a more wide-ranging investigation.

    If Rugby Australia gets its way and pushes ahead with its own internal review, even one supplemented by independent personnel, the body would be given no power to consider, let alone appoint, who Cheika’s successor should be as Wallabies coach.

    Wayne Smith
    Senior Sport Writer
    After a long stint as rugby union editor, Wayne Smith joined The Australian's outstanding team of cricket writers in 2007. He first covered cricket in 1971, and is also an experienced swimming writer.

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    Will believe it when I see it. It's still the classic C-level horseshit.

    The Rugby Australia Nominations Committee still exists - so the nepotistic snouts in the trough will live to fight another day.

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    Last edited by Kiap; 24-10-19 at 03:34.

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    Clyne has no intention of shifting, at least until he’s finished with his VIP tickets to the Semi & Grand Final games. Just a pity that the uproar from Eastern states didn’t start howling years ago, when the red flags were flapping everywhere. All WA rugbyites are going « told you so »!

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    "Suitable" replacement … define that exactly !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiap View Post
    Will believe it when I see it. It's still the classic C-level horseshit.

    The Rugby Australia Nominations Committee still exists - so the nepotistic snouts in the trough will live to fight another day.
    1. Also will believe it when I see it.
    2. In any case, it will be too late.
    3. One obvious danger is that any replacement as Chairman could well be another North Shore based mouthpiece for the NSWRU/QRU.

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    Last edited by FingerTips; 24-10-19 at 09:46.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    "Suitable" replacement … define that exactly !
    One who will continue to siphon money towards NSW, Queensland, and especially Victoria, ignore the 'little people' (aka grassroots), and will pay lip-service to club rugby.

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