Seeing former Wallabies boss Michael Cheika enjoying his new role as a consultant with Argentina after five years with Australia has inspired Dan Leo to revisit a point made by Ardie Savea regarding the job mobility of coaches in international rugby. 

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The All Blacks flanker tweeted last year: “Random thought – rugby union players aren’t allowed to switch allegiance once playing for their country. Should the same rule apply to coaches?”

Leo, the CEO of Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, has now echoed this point, saying: “So weird seeing Cheika coaching ARG only a few months after coaching oppo AUS for a number of years – when players who play only a few minutes are locked into those countries for life.”

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This is a topic discussed in the recent Oceans Apart: Greed, Betrayal and Pacific Rugby film, the situation where players are unable to switch allegiance to another country. The player highlighted in the documentary was Bristol Bears’ 17-cap All Black Charles Piutau, who won the last of his Test caps in 2015 but is unable to represent Tonga, for whom his brother Siale has played. 

There are plenty of differences between players and coaches, not least that players can be in and out of a team over their careers while coaches cannot, but the influence a player like Piutau could have on Tonga is comparable to the help that Cheika, the ex-Wallabies coach, has recently provided to Argentina. 

When looking at the coaches in the Autumn Nations Cup currently, Eddie Jones has worked with Australia, South Africa and Japan, Andy Farrell was previously an assistant coach with England, Shaun Edwards was previously with Wales and Vern Cotter was Scotland’s head coach. 

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In the Tri-Nations, Argentina’s Mario Ledesma worked under Cheika with Australia, while current Wallabies boss Dave Rennie is from New Zealand, as is Wales’ Wayne Pivac. The All Blacks’ Ian Foster has stayed in New Zealand throughout his career, although his predecessors Graham Henry and Steve Hansen both had stints in charge of Wales. 

This illustrates how much movement there is between coaching jobs and nobody bats an eyelid. Moreover, the game is better for it. But that is the point Leo and PRPW have been making about players.

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