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Ex-Wallabies boss Michael Cheika linked with shock Pro D2 switch

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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Ex-Wallabies boss Michael Cheika has been linked with a left-field move – taking charge of Pro D2 strugglers Narbonne in France. It was after the 2019 World Cup quarter-final defeat to England in Oita that Cheika stepped down as the Australia boss after a five-year spell at the helm. 

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Cheika has since assisted Argentina in a consultancy role for the 2020 Tri-Nations that was hosted in Australia. However, while it was confirmed last May that he had been appointed as the new director of rugby at Japanese Top League outfit NEC Green Rockets for the 2022 season, he is reportedly living in France and has been touted for a surprise role at a club drifting in 16th and last place in the second-tier league. 

French club rugby isn’t alien to the coach. He spent two years in charge at Stade Francais from 2010 to 2012, a pit stop in between leaving Leinster and joining New South Wales Waratahs, the job where Super Rugby title success in 2014 opened the door to Cheika becoming the Wallabies boss.

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Michael Cheika on is love for rugby
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Michael Cheika on is love for rugby

Narbonne has had its Australian connections previously, 1991 World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer, Australian sports marketing outfit FGM and former Wallaby skipper Rocky Elsom taking charge in 2011 when the club was in dire need of financial stability.

Now they are in dire need of some results on the pitch or face dropping down into Federale 1 level. Just two of 15 matches this season have been won by Narbonne, leaving them bottom in 16th place and eight points off 14th place Agen and safety. 

Last Friday night’s latest result was horrific for Narbonne as the team currently coached by Julien Seron and Brice Mach lost 70-0 at Oyonnax, who are riding high in second place. It has left the struggling Narbonne looking for solutions and rugbyrama.fr have reported: “The Australian-Lebanese technician, currently without a concrete mission, lives in the region and is cited internally to take over the head of the staff as manager. Fantasy or real lead? The days to come will tell…”

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Speaking to media after the loss to Oyonnax, Narbonne president Philippe Campos said: “Today, the staff is maintained. No decision has been taken for the moment. We will reflect with them, with Marc Delpoux, who is the guarantor of the sporting project. We will reflect, we will discuss, we will take stock. We have to take stock and try to find solutions.”

Regarding Cheika being linked with Narbonne, he added: “Once again, it’s a rumour. This one does not seem far-fetched to me, but it is not acted upon. Yes, he resides in Narbonne, everyone knows it. But until proven, Michael Cheika is in contract with a Japanese team, so as far as it concerns him no leads have been explored and no contact has been established.”

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