Rugby AU board meeting unlikely to provide final call on 2019 Wallabies staff

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

As Monday's Rugby Australia board meeting nears, it appears increasingly unlikely a final decision on the Wallabies staff for 2019 will be handed down in three days' time.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and his players had their usual post-season review in London in the days after their final Test of the year, a 38-17 loss to England, before the players' end of year break.

This meeting, though, will be the first time Cheika has spoken to the board since returning from the end of year Spring Tour and will form part of a wider review process of the Wallabies season.

While a concrete call is not expected to be announced on Monday, a more realistic scenario out of would be the setting down of a timeline for the final decision either way, still expected sometime next week.

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle said late last month that any review process would be complete by Christmas, with 2019 a pivotal year for the national team.

“There's no doubt the review process of this Wallabies season is important,” Castle said at the time.

“We're nine months really until, once we get through Christmas, into the World Cup next year. We need to make sure we've got our Super teams in a place where they can perform consistently over this Super Rugby tournament because that's what builds the platform for Wallaby success both in the performances they have, learning how to win, being confident and playing good rugby.

“I think that piece is really important.

At the time, Castle said Rugby Australia would be supportive of the Wallabies coaches into the World Cup and take a share of responsibility in however that tournament unfolds.

“We're all together in this. We all have to stand shoulder to shoulder,” she said.

“My start point is not a half glass empty view of that.

“We believe that we've got a head coach who's experienced, that's led a party through a World Cup before, one of his biggest strengths is going into a campaign-type environment where he'll get the boys offshore, he'll actually have them consistently for about 8-10 weeks where they'll be able to build that momentum inside the environment and lead into a World Cup.

“So, there's no doubt, we have got a review to do and we need to look under every cover and make sure we've identified the things that aren't working as well as they should've and opportunities that we can improve but we're there shoulder to shoulder and ultimately we're there because we believe that we can be successful at the World Cup."

Rugby Australia last week cancelled a planned call with former Brumbies and Springboks coach Jake White, who reached out to the organisation with an interest in speaking about the Wallabies coaching job.

Cheika has been in Canberra this week meeting with the Brumbies, as part of planned strategy meetings for 2019, and is expected to visit Melbourne at some point next week as well.