Former Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O’Neill believes the struggling union are in need of a “radical overhaul” and “urgent repair”.
O’Neill – who held the incumbent Raelene Castle’s position on two separate stint from 1995-2003 and 2007-2013 – told The Sydney Morning Herald his thoughts on the current situation, and made the assertion that the current coaching crop wouldn’t still be in charge of the national side if he was heading the union.
Despite being the only team to topple the World Rugby Team of the Year winners Ireland, the Wallabies slumped to four wins from 13 fixtures under Michael Cheika in 2018.
“They have to act in the best interests of Australian rugby and the reality is the statistics don’t lie and a radical overhaul is an option that must be considered seriously,” O’Neill told SMH.
“The health and wellbeing of Australian rugby relies inevitably and conclusively on the success of the Wallabies. The current state of the Wallabies’ performance, and therefore Australian rugby, needs urgent repair on and off the field.
“In my opinion, tinkering is not an option. The leadership of Australian rugby has nothing but difficult choices to make. There are no easy answers but that goes with the territory that is the role of the governing body.
“A comment was made at the Bradman Gala Dinner recently where cricket was described as a ‘dysfunctional family’. The Australian rugby family is equally dysfunctional. Just like cricket, when the Australian cricket team is on top of the world, Australian cricket feels good about itself.”
Cheika is scheduled to face the RA board in two weeks as the governing body weigh up their options ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.
While pundits and fans have questioned whether it is too close to a World Cup to fire Cheika, O’Neill directly disproved that theory during his time with Australia’s Football Federation.
O’Neill made the decision to fire Socceroos head coach Frank Farina in 2005 just three months before 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in favour of Guus Hiddink. Hiddink then led the Socceroos to their first World Cup since 1974 where they made the round of 16.
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