Michael Cheika lambasted by English duo for 'headless', 'selfish', 'irresponsible' quarter-final game plan

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The game plan deployed by outgoing Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika against England has been labelled as “headless”, “selfish”, “irresponsible” and defined by “sheer stubbornness”.


The 52-year-old announced he would not seek re-appointment in his role as head coach of Australia following his side’s dismal 40-16 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Eddie Jones’ team in Oita on Saturday.

The result not only spelled the end of the Wallabies’ ill-fated World Cup campaign, but it also brought to an end Cheika’s five-year reign in charge of the Australian national side.

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During his time in charge, the ex-Leinster, Stade Francais and Waratahs coach led the Wallabies to the 2015 World Cup final after taking over at short notice towards the end of 2014, but the ensuing four years of his tenure ended in turmoil as he picked up just 10 wins from his final 25 outings.

News of his departure from Rugby Australia was met with swift criticism from a raft of rugby personalities worldwide, with 70-test Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper, who missed selection the 2019 World Cup and hasn’t been selected by Cheika since 2017, leading the onslaught on social media.


However, perhaps the harshest evaluation of Cheika’s involvement in the Australian set-up came from former England and British and Irish Lions wing Ugo Monye and Olympic champion sevens coach Ben Ryan.

Monye, who won 14 caps for his country and the Lions, was stunned by the tactics of which Cheika persisted with during his side’s 24-point thumping at the hands of England.

“[It] was one of the most selfish tactical game plans I’ve seen in a long time because it wasn’t about the players,” Monye told BT Sport.


“Everyone knows a blueprint of how you can challenge England. What Cheika put up against Eddie Jones — he let his players down.

“They’ve got brilliant players. When they got into England’s half, when the likes of Will Genia, [Samu] Kerevi, [Marika] Koroibete — they looked unbelievable.

“But he totally ignored all that with sheer stubbornness. I didn’t like the tactics, it didn’t work out and I personally feel he let his team down because it didn’t give them the best opportunity to win. How many trophies have you won (with these tactics)?

“It was irresponsible because the game plan wasn’t about the players, it was about him. It was about ‘this is what I believe Australian rugby to be and we’re going to stick to it come hell or high water, this is the way which is going to work’.

“And it’s not worked in the Rugby Championship and in a knockout game — the biggest game of his career — I genuinely believe he’s let his players down because they’re too good a side to be getting beaten (40-16).”

Former England and Fiji sevens coach Ryan, who led the Fijians to a gold medal at the inaugural rugby sevens event at the 2016 Rio Olympics, doubled down on Monye’s comments, condemning Cheika for undermining Australia’s attacking prowess by instructing them to play inside their own half.

“He hid behind saying we’re (playing) attacking rugby,” Ryan said. “It’s not attacking rugby if you can’t get out of your own 22. It was headless rugby. He just let down his players.”

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Michael Cheika lambasted by English duo for 'headless', 'selfish', 'irresponsible' quarter-final game plan