is a truism about coaches: they are either
being sacked, or waiting to be sacked. This
is the harsh reality behind the current
turmoil in Camp Wallaby.
Head coach John Connolly, backs coach Scott
Johnson, restarts coach Michael Foley and
defence coach John Muggleton are all looking
into a void as far as their futures after
the Rugby World Cup are concerned.
What seems to be happening is that the
coaches are positioning themselves to be
part of a new Wallaby coaching group in
2008, or as head coaches somewhere else.
One problem is that there are no Super 14
head coaching jobs available in Australia
now that the Queensland Reds have picked the
relatively unknown Phil Mooney, a successful
coach of Australia in the under-19 World Cup
in 2006, as the successor to Eddie Jones.
There have been reports that Johnson, who
had a successful stint as a backs coach with
Wales, is being lined up for a job by one of
the Welsh clubs. If the Wallabies do well in
the World Cup, and if John O'Neill isn't
able to snare Robbie Deans, then Johnson
must be in line to take over from Connolly.
These are big "ifs", however. Talk in rugby
circles in Australia is that Johnson is
unhappy with Andrew Johns, the former league
star, being recruited to teach the Wallabies
backs new tricks. Johnson's approach to how
the Wallabies should be playing (more
expansively) is at variance with Connolly's
preference for the kicking/field position
Muggleton applied for the Reds head coaching
job. He was not supported by an influential
ARU office-holder. It was Muggleton's angry
walkout on a speech by ARU president Paul
McLean that provoked the "splits in Camp
Wallaby" stories. McLean praised each member
of the coaching staff by name, except for
Muggleton has a right to be angry about this
snub. In 1998 Rod Macqueen recruited
Muggleton, a former league star and defence
coach, to put starch into the Wallabies'
defensive patterns. Muggleton delivered.
At the 1999 World Cup the Wallabies allowed
only one try in the entire tournament. It's
clear Muggleton believes, probably
correctly, that he hasn't received the
recognition he deserves.
So some of the Wallabies coaches feeling are
threatened. The chief executive of the ARU
is openly courting Deans to take over next
Rumours have resurfaced after a lacklustre
Wallabies squad was selected for the World
Cup campaign that there may be a clean- out
of coaches before the World Cup, and there
is talk about several key players not having
confidence in some members of the coaching
One thing we know about World Cup campaigns
is that teams that have splits in the ranks
won't do well. Think of the All Blacks in
1991 when the team was split into the Alex
Wyllie (Canterbury) and John Hart (Auckland)
factions. This does not augur well for the
Wallabies' World Cup campaign.
SPIRO ZAVOS -
The Dominion Post | Friday, 3 August
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