Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will not seek a new contract after his tenure ends on December 31 after Australia’s 40-16 loss to England in the World Cup quarterfinal.
After initially deflecting the question when asked in the post-match press conference, Cheika will fall on his sword.
Speaking to a press conference, Cheika dropped the announcement with the bombshell he had “no relationship” with the Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle and chairman Cameron Clyne.
It will end the coach’s five year tenure as the Wallabies coach.
Cheika has long said that he would resign if Australia didn’t win the World Cup and Aussie English coach Jones proved to be the mastermind to end his Wallabies tenure.
He told Rugby.com.au he knew he would stand down from the final whistle and said he just needed some time to get his affairs in order.
“I got asked the question in the press conference about what’s going to happen going forward and at the time I wasn’t keen to answer but I always knew the answer in my head, I just wanted to speak to my wife and tell a few people I care about about,” he said.
“I put my chips in earlier in the year I told people no win, no play.
“So, I’m the type of man who always going to back what he says and I knew from the final whistle but I just wanted to give it that little bit time to settle down, talk to my people and then make it clear.”
Cheika said he had “no regrets” about making the call but would have loved to stay in the position, describing it as “an honour” to be the coach of Australia.
He also said it was important for the game to create the bigger picture of the game.
But Cheika saved a parting shot for the Rugby Australia administration.
“It is no secret I have no relationship with the CEO (Raelene Castle) and not much with the chairman (Cameron Clyne),” Cheika said.
It’s a massive claim with former Wallaby Phil Kearns turning the blame on Rugby Australia for the earlier than hoped for exit after years of neglect in the development pathways.
“It’s not just Michael Cheika’s fault, our coaching for the past 15-20 years has been terrible and I mean not just at Wallaby level but at juniors and the skills we teach them and the way we ask them to play the game,” he said. “We teach this shape and pattern and structure and process, which is all rubbish because if you can’t catch and pass and kick and tackle, you can’t play the game.”
Former Wallabies captain George Gregan agreed and said now is the time for Australian rugby to make some tough decisions and align Australian rugby.
Cheika also copped some heat with former Wallabies star Quade Cooper sticking the boot in.
Castle responded to Cheika’s decision with a statement.
“On behalf of Rugby Australia, I want to thank Michael for his dedication and service to the role of Wallabies Head Coach since taking up the position in 2014,” the statement read.
“Michael is a passionate and experienced coach who worked tirelessly to get the best out his players. He cares deeply about the Wallabies and the game of Rugby, and always set out with the aim of making Wallabies fans proud of the team’s performances.
“Michael came into the role at a turbulent time, and experienced immediate success by taking the Wallabies to a World Cup Final after only one year in the job. He was later given the ultimate recognition for that achievement by being named World Rugby Coach of the Year.”
She also said Rugby Australia’s Director of Rugby Scott Johnson would lead a review of the World Cup campaign and the 2019 season and said the future planning would continue to the end of the year.
Cheika’s era as coach started with success as he led Australia to the World Cup final in 2015 before they lost to New Zealand but coaching during one of the more turbulent periods in Australian rugby history took its toll.
Cheika’s 50 per cent winning record is the equal worst by any Wallabies coach since 1982, matching his immediate predecessor Ewen McKenzie.
Nine losses from 13 Tests in 2018 was the Wallabies’ worst calendar year.
Calls for Cheika’s head mounted and reports that Rugby Australia couldn’t afford to sack him were refuted.
Dumped attack coach Stephen Larkham was seemingly a sacrificial lamb.
Followed by a World Cup campaign that never rose to any great heights as Australia were tested against Fiji and Georgia, as well as losing to Wales before Saturday’s thrashing at the hands on England have proved to be the final straw.
Heart on his sleeve to the end, an emotional Cheika wouldn’t confirm his departure in the immediate wake of the Oita humbling, taking aim at a journalist.
“It’s a cruel, cruel world nowadays when you’re asked those questions two minutes after your World Cup is finished,” Cheika said.
“If you’d find it inside you to find a little bit of compassion to just ask more relevant questions … think about peoples’ feelings for a minute. Just chill.”
Asked if the Australian public deserved an answer, Cheika said: “When the time comes, I’ll tell them. They don’t need to know today, it’s not going to kill them.”
Cheika looked like a broken man after the result, staring down as he went through an on field interview.
“I thought we played quite well for the first 50 or 60,” he said. “We gave away two intercepts, and they defended well. The better team won and you’ve got to suck that up sometimes. We were supposed to get things done for the people here and for Australians — I’m f***ing so disappointed.”
However, he’ll soon be free to link with French club Montpellier, if the media reports are accurate, and Australia can set about a sizeable restoration process.
Already New Zealand coach Dave Rennie is the hot favourite to replace Cheika with the current Glasgow Warriors coach having a strong resume including two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs.