ARU to set up national coaching panel

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The ARU has plans to establish a national coaching panel, in a bid to improve coaching at all levels, after a meeting of some of the most influential coaches in rugby on Thursday.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, national skills coach Mick Byrne, World Cup-winning Wallabies mentor Bob Dwyer, coaching director Dick Marks, ARU high performance manager Ben Whitaker and former Wallaby Rob Kafer were all part of a meeting on Thursday, aimed at addressing national coaching concerns.

Cheika, speaking to media on Thursday, said the key takeaway from the meeting was the introduction of this panel, to provide support and education to coaches from grassroots to Super Rugby.

“We’re committed to setting up a national coaching panel,” he said.

“That’s a coaching panel that’s going to help support the development of coaches throughout the whole game from the elite level down to the very junior level.

“I want the guy who is coaching our under-6s to feel like he is part of an Australian coaching fraternity that has certain fundamentals that we’re proud of.”

Cheika stressed the details were still to be finalised with plans for its rollout to be sent to Super Rugby clubs for feedback, but hoped some form of the program could be started in the next four months.

“I’ve been dying to say 100 days because that’s what every American president says," he said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

"Whatever that time is, three and a bit months, we could actually have something set up.”

The personnel who might sit on such a panel are not clear, though Dwyer has reportedly thrown himself into the mix, while the return of former Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher to Australia would also be unlikely to have gone unnoticed.

“We have set some sort of time frames around establishment of the panel,” Cheika said.

“We’ll draw up what we did today, send it around to some people – all the state unions and super rugby coaches - just to get some feedback.

“There was a lot of consensus around what we would like to do to help.”

The group is likely to meet again after the Wallabies June Series to continue working on ideas to address the concerns of coaching in Australia, in a bid to create some positivity around rugby.

"There's been a lot of negativity about the game. We can't escape that and we can't do much about those other things as coaches,” he said.

"But we can make a difference by getting something going for the game.”

Though this first meeting came amid a season of poor Australian Super Rugby performance, Cheika said that wasn’t the trigger.

“I know that we’re seeing poor results and as a coach I’ve been in situations where my team has gone through struggles before so you can’t hide from it.

“I believe that all the answers to those issues are inside all the teams, they just need to discover them.”