The Wallabies and their long-suffering supporters all of a sudden have genuine cause for hope — and it’s all thanks to the old enemy, England.
The last of former CEO Raelene Castle’s senseless appointments, Rennie should have been fired long before now because he was never the right man for the job.
It’s not entirely Rennie’s fault because he inherited a team already on the slide and the task of turning the Wallabies around is such an immense challenge that only a rare few people could ever accomplish it.
Unfortunately for Rennie, he just isn’t one of them.
If the truth be told, the New Zealander’s three seasons in charge have been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for Australian rugby.
Under his watch, the Wallabies won just 38 per cent of all their matches while developing a deserved reputation as the biggest whingers in the game — blaming everyone but themselves for their woeful performances.
His selections have been baffling, his tactics downright boring and the team’s high error-rate and ill discipline nauseating.
It has been a gut-wrenching time for Wallabies supporters, who have been screaming from the rooftops that drastic changes were needed but were being ignored by the people in power.
How Rennie survived as long as he did remains an indictment on Rugby Australia and Rennie’s bootlicking apologists who failed to call him out when he needed it.
Some senior board members spotted the problem long ago but it was only recently, on the Wallabies’ embarrassing tour of Europe, that everyone on the board finally agreed Rennie had to go.
Their dilemma was who should replace him but, unknown to everyone at the time, Rugby Australia had already started informal talks with Jones before he was cut loose by England.
Sacking Jones ranks as one of the dumbest mistakes the Poms have ever made but that’s their problem because in this case, England’s loss is most definitely Australia’s gain.
Rennie was already a dead man walking but the moment Jones became available, it was only a matter of time before the Australian was reappointed as Wallabies coach for the 2023 World Cup.
That’s the only decision Rugby Australia could have made because if the board had stuck with Rennie and the team bombed out early, they would also have faced the firing squad and deservedly so because the loyal Wallabies fans deserve better.
But with Jones back in charge, all of a sudden the Wallabies and their long-suffering supporters have genuine cause for hope,
For the first time since 2015, the Wallabies now have a real shot at regaining the Webb Ellis Cup.
Renowned as a hard taskmaster, Jones’ World Cup record speaks for itself but what counts for more is his no-nonsense approach to the game and his ability to transform losers into winners.
For too long, Rugby Australia has been going on about how hosting the World Cup in 2027 will fix the game’s problems but nothing will give the code a bigger boost than winning the title in 2023.
The naysayers will argue that changing coaches in the same year as the World Cup is fraught with danger, but ignore them because they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Changing coaches at the last minute has actually been one of the secrets to success at the World Cup.
The last time the Wallabies made the World Cup final was in 2015 when Michael Cheika took over from Ewen McKenzie the previous year.
And the last time the Wallabies won the World Cup, in 1999, also came after a change of coaches, with Rod Macqueen replacing Greg Smith, who resigned in 1997.
South Africa famously won the 1995 World Cup — inspiring the Hollywood blockbuster Invictus — after replacing their head coach the previous year.
And at the last World Cup in 2019, the Springboks won a record equalling third World Cup after sacking Allister Coetzee as head coach in 2018 and replacing him with Rassie Erasmus.
Now with Rennie gone and Jones in charge, there’s no reason the Wallabies can’t do the same. Better late than never, indeed.
Originally published as Eddie Jones appointment gives Wallabies fans cause for hope in World Cup year
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