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Cheika to take charge of NSW Waratahs

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By Waratahs Media Unit, NSWRU Media Unit

Michael Cheika has today been appointed Head Coach of the HSBC Waratahs.

His appointment follows an extensive search conducted by the Waratahs Rugby Board.  Announcing the decision, Chairman Roger Davis said the panel had been unanimous in its support for the highly regarded former Randwick and Leinster coach as the best possible candidate to lead the HSBC Waratahs into a new and successful era.

Said Davis, “On behalf of the whole organisation, I’d like to welcome Michael to Waratahs Rugby.  We are thrilled to have him on board. 

“In addition to a wealth of domestic and international coaching experience, Michael has a proven track record as an inspirational leader and an agent of change.

“We believe he is the right man to embrace the HSBC Waratahs’ great tradition and ambition and develop a strong and successful culture that embraces all our supporters, partners and stakeholders.”

After calling time on his playing career in 1999, the highlights of Michael Cheika ’s 13-year coaching career include guiding Randwick to first and second grade Premiership titles in 2004 and steering Irish Province Leinster to Celtic League success in 2008 and a first ever Heineken Cup title in 2009. 

Born in Sydney, the 45-year-old says he is proud to have been chosen to take charge of the HSBC Waratahs.

“The opportunity to coach the Super Rugby team of my home state and the responsibility to make all our supporters and all people from NSW proud of their team is one that motivates me immensely.

“I am really looking forward to being part of this new era in NSW rugby and will bring all the passion and professionalism I have to make this team one everyone will be proud of.

“My immediate goal is to establish our identity loud and clear, inside and outside of the team; who we are, how we are going to play the game and what we are prepared to do to earn the respect of our team mates, our supporters and our competitors, as individuals and as a team.

“By achieving this we will earn the right to think about getting some good results.”

After impressing the panel consisting of David Mortimer (Sydney University President), Al Baxter (Waratahs Rugby Director), Jason Allen (Waratahs Rugby CEO) and Roger Davis (Waratahs Rugby Chairman), Michael will join the HSBC Waratahs on October 1, 2012.

Highly regarded within the NSW rugby community, the former No. 8 spent 14 seasons with Randwick, playing over 300 games for the club and winning seven Shute Shield Premiership titles between 1985 and 1999, captaining the side in his last two seasons.   After launching his coaching career in Italy, where he spent a year as head coach of Series A side Petrarca Rugby, Cheika returned the Galloping Greens, where his three-year tenure culminated in the club achieving both first and second grade Premiership titles in 2004.

Moving to Europe, he spent five years at the helm of Irish Province Leinster, guiding them to five successive top-three Magners League finishes, including a Celtic league title in 2008.  Aided by his then-assistant Alan Gaffney, in 2009 he led Leinster to a first ever Heineken (European) Cup title with an historic 19-16 win over English champions Leicester Tigers, helped by a man of the match performance from Rocky Elsom and a drop goal from inspirational Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll. He has spent the past two seasons as director of rugby with French Top 14 side Stade Francais.

Michael Cheika biography

Born in Sydney, 45-year-old Michael Cheika moved into coaching at the end of a playing career that saw him play over 300 games for the famous Randwick club. In 14 seasons with the Galloping Greens, he won seven Shute Shield Premiership titles between 1985 and 1999, captaining the side in his last two seasons.  The tough No. 8 made 212 first grade appearances and is the club’s sixth most capped player of all time.  In June 1988, he played alongside the likes of David Campese, David Knox, Gary Ella and Ewen McKenzie and Simon Poidevin as Randwick took on the touring All Blacks in what has since been described as one of the most memorable rugby matches ever played in Australia.

As well as playing for Australia U21s (1988) and representing NSW on their spring tour of the UK in 1997, Cheika played in Europe, representing French Division 1 side Castres Olympique (1989/90 and 1990/91) and Division 2 outfit CASG Paris (1991/92) before spending two seasons on the Tuscany Coast with Rugby Livorno, where he played alongside David Knox, between 1992 and 1994.  In 1993 he represented an Italian Selection XV against the All Blacks.

Hanging up his boots in 1999, Cheika began his coaching career at Padova, where he spent a year as head coach of Series A side Petrarca Rugby, before returning to take charge at Randwick in 2001.  His three year tenure with the Galloping Greens culminated in the club achieving both first and second grade Premiership titles in 2004.

In May 2005, Cheika replaced Declan Kidney as Head Coach of Leinster, where he stayed for five years, overhauling the squad and leading the Province to a first ever Heineken Cup Victory. 
In his first season he took Leinster to a Heineken Cup semi–final, losing 30-6 to eventual champions Munster at Lansdowne Road.

Despite failing to qualify from their Heineken Cup pool in 2007/08, Leinster ended the season as Celtic League champions for the first time since 2001.  Sealing the title with a six-try 41–8 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons in front of a sell-out crowd at their new home, the RDS Arena, the title was Cheika's first trophy as Leinster coach. The following season, Leinster topped their Heineken Cup pool and went on to overcome Harlequins at the Stoop, a match famous for the ‘Bloodgate Scandal’, before overcoming their underdog status to topple Munster 25–6 in the Croke Park semi-final. Watched by a crowd of over 82,200, the match broke the world record attendance for a club rugby union game.  Their 19-16 final victory over English Premiership champions Leicester Tigers at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium saw the Province claim its first every European crown.    Included among Cheika’s coaching team that year was former Randwick head coach and HSBC Waratahs assistant coach Alan Gaffney, while the team’s on field efforts were helped by a man of the match performance from Rocky Elsom and a drop goal from inspirational Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll.

When he left for Stade Français in June 2010, the club was known as the market leader.  Having overhauled the club’s entire rugby operations, from the training facilities and techniques, to the team’s player recruitment and retention policies, the club’s strong identity was reflected in a 400% increase in season ticket holders. 

After two seasons as director of rugby with French Top 14 side Stade Français, Cheika returns to his home state and will officially take charge of the HSBC Waratahs on October 1, 2012.

Married to Stephanie, he is also a successful businessman.  In 2001 he set up fashion distribution company Live Fashion, opening a worldwide distribution network three years later.  Founded on the same three fundamental disciplines of his coaching success; leadership, management and technical expertise, in 2010 when he sold the company, it employed 20 staff across Sydney London and Hong Kong.  He remains on the board of directors.


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