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'A reckless move': Why Aus & NZ would be 'crazy' to axe their coaches

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

New Zealand rugby great Murray Mexted believes the Wallabies and All Blacks would be “crazy” to fire their respective coaches less than a year out from the World Cup.


International rugby has never been this competitive, but the expectation to win remains the same – and two top coaches have ultimately paid the price for some poor form.

Two traditional juggernauts of international rugby have made the bold decision to fire their head coach this week, just nine months out from the biggest event in the sport.

The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed that Warren Gatland would return to Wales to replace Wayne Pivac, while Eddie Jones was recently axed from his position with England.

Wales appeared especially desperate for change following a dire 2022 campaign which began with a fifth-place finish in the Six Nations.

While wins proved hard to come by for the remainder of the year, Pivac’s fate was seemingly sealed following a first ever loss to Georgia and a disastrous collapse against Australia.

Meanwhile, England only won one of their four matches during their November internationals, which was a convincing win over Japan.


But Eddie Jones’ hot seat reached boiling point following a convincing loss at home against South Africa, and news broke of his dismissal a matter of hours ago.

Speaking on SENZ, former All Blacks backrower Mexted said it would be “reckless” for New Zealand or Australia to make a similar decision.

“I’m surprised that Wales have sacked Pivac with one year to go, I think it’s a lot to do with the new coach. Gatland would be the only one qualified to take that role because he’s so close to it,” Mexted said on SENZ.

“But with Dave Rennie, they’d be crazy if they changed Dave Rennie… and it’s got to that stage with Ian Foster now too.


“To destabilise the World Cup campaign half a dozen matches out from the World cup, because there are a few not so big matches, would be a bad move, and it would be a reckless move, and I don’t think the New Zealand Rugby Union are going to do that.

“What we want to see to have our best opportunity is to have the players they aren’t quite sure about playing in Super Rugby competition, and then for them to pick their Test squad… for The Rugby Championship and stick with those guys.”

All Blacks Ian Foster came under fire following New Zealand’s historic series loss at home to Ireland – a team who had never won one Test in Aotearoa against the men in black before this year.


New Zealand went on to lose a Test match in South Africa, and another historic loss at home at Argentina, before they got their World Cup campaign back on track.

While Foster was publicly backed by the New Zealand Rugby Union, the assistant coaching group of Joe Schmidt and Jason Ryan has clearly worked wonders for the All Blacks.

The All Blacks finished their season on a seven Test unbeaten run – which included a dramatic draw with England at Twickenham – so Foster will almost certainly be safe until at least the World Cup.

As for Australia, they didn’t have the year that they deserved. They just didn’t.

The Wallabies fought valiantly in every Test match they played, but they just couldn’t hold on for the full 80 minutes.

Australia started their season with a two-point win over traditional rivals England in Perth, before losing six of their next eight Test matches.

While they kick started their spring tour with a thrilling win over Scotland, poor discipline cost them in tight matches as they lost their next three by three points or less.

But the true blue spirit of this Australian team was on display during their final Test of the year, as they completed an incredible comeback against Wales.

However, the performances of yesteryear tend to be somewhat forgotten as the world gathers once every four years to determine and for all who’s the best.

This is really all that matters in international rugby – and both players and coaches need time to prove themselves.

“At the end of the day the Rugby World Cup is the most significant event in the rugby calendar,” Mexted added.

“The problem is… the Rugby World Cup is only every four years but you’d have to say though that most successful periods of tenures are those that are consistent over a period of about four years or more.

“If you look back in history and look back at the time that a head coach ran the show with success, they often had four, five, six years at the helm.

“Chopping and changing, I don’t think is good. We’ve had a marvelous record over 100 years of about 79 per cent… that’s magnificent but you get that when you get a little bit of continuity.”


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