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Rugby Australia on the players' influence over Rennie's axing: 'We didn't consult them at all'

By Ned Lester
Dave Rennie with the Wallabies for the team photo. Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has confirmed that the Wallabies players were not consulted on the decision to fire head coach Dave Rennie and replace him with Eddie Jones.

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Rennie’s sacking was announced Monday, following a week-long Wallabies training camp on the Gold Coast. The unusual timing of the decision has been called into question by many as the Rugby World Cup looms in just nine months’ time.

The timing has now been described as opportunistic, with Eddie Jones available, a homecoming was arranged. McLennan also revealed that Rugby Australia had been in touch with Jones for well over a year.

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“He’s the best coach in the world,” McLennan told SEN 1170 Mornings. “He’s an Aussie, he’s a classic Sydney sider and he understands Rugby and our competitive dynamic.

“He was absolutely on the radar and we’ve been talking to him since November of 2021.

“We were thinking (of hiring him) from 2024 onwards (and) then we literally fell off our chair when he got cut by the RFU (Rugby Football Union).

“We had a poor Spring Tour and didn’t perform to our expectations so we just thought we’d capture Eddie for 2023. Give ourselves the best opportunity to win (the World Cup) in 2023. He’ll deliver results for us.”

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McLennan confirmed that if Jones was not cut by the RFU and therefore was not on the market, then Dave Rennie would still be the head coach of the Wallabies. McLennan pointed to Jones’ winning percentage with England compared to Rennie’s with Australia, citing the difference as a signal of Jones’ potential to “reinvigorate” the Australian team.

“Dave’s a very honourable guy but we all live by the scoreboard in everything we do in life.”

Rennie broke his silence on the situation on Wednesday, saying he was disappointed but “I leave knowing I had the full support of the playing group and the staff.” The quote raised more than a few eyebrows as it indicates the decision was made entirely externally from the camp.

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“We didn’t consult (the players) at all,” McLennan confirmed. “It was a decision made by the board as we administer and oversee the whole game.

“The board felt it was the right thing to do and it was a unanimous decision of the board to hire Eddie.

“Some players are really unsettled while some players are really up for it.

“There will be change and there’ll be continued change with RA on the administrative side.

“On the whole, it was the right thing to do and I’m comfortable with the decision.”

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