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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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Rob Penney stood down without pay while his assistant coaches remain on the books

By Online Editors
Waratahs head coach Rob Penney. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Waratahs, like many sporting clubs around the world, have been forced into taking drastic cost-cutting measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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One such measure has seen Kiwi head coach Rob Penney stood down without pay despite the fact that both his assistants, Chris Whitaker and Matt Cockbain, are still on the books.

Although the Waratahs have enjoyed a dismal first season under the man who coached Canterbury to four provincial championships on the trot, chief executive Paul Doorn has said that the stand-down is nothing to do with results and everything to do with the current climate.

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“That is not to do with performance, it’s just a combination of factors,” Doorn told the Sun-Herald. “From our perspective, we are looking at improving … individual skills at a forwards and backs level.”

The Waratahs are continuing to train in a limited capacity with the side focussing less on overall tactics and match-planning, and more on general skills – which is why back coach Whitaker and forwards coach Cockbain have been retained at this time.

Doorn himself has taken a 30 percent pay cut while around 70 percent of Waratahs staff have been stood down.

“There are a whole host of people we’d love to keep on the books, but it’s just not possible at the moment,” Doorn said.

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“I’m still working full-time, but I’ve said I’m taking a 30 per cent pay cut, which the board signed off on. If that needs to be more, then we’ll look at that after what happens behind closed doors over the weekend.

“I’m a bit of a realist – leaders need to lead from the front.”

Doorn is confident that the Waratahs will be able to survive the pandemic, which has seen rugby across the globe suspended or cancelled.

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“We’re not saying it’s going to be easy but we think we’re in a good place financially if we manage the business, if we manage expenses and manage our relationships with people like sponsors, to be able to emerge on the other side.”

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RUGBYPASS+ Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis
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