Australian rugby fans have accepted their fate – another two years of the Dingo Deans show: like it or not the ARU re-signed his contract prior to the World Cup, and even if it hadn’t been, the crowd’s favourite, Ewen McKenzie is surely bound to the reds. For many, any remaining vestiges of resistance were quelled with the contrite suggestion from Robbie that he would seek McKenzie’s input as a consultant.
That’s just how it is, isn’t it?
Well information has come to G&GR, which if true, would make this NOT the case.
In my post last week, I mentioned the Deans contractual clause I had heard about from a source in the media, who had in turn been made aware of its existence by none other than John O’Neill. I had assumed that this clause related to winning the Quarter Final, which by doing the Wallabies’ campaign had attained a “pass” mark by the ARU board.
New information to me suggests that in fact the clause related to another vital game in the Wallabies campaign – the Ireland pool game. Like everyone else in world rugby, the ARU board had spotted this game as being vital for the Wallabies. Win it, and we have only northern hemisphere opposition to the final. Lose it – and you know the rest.
So the first assumption – that Deans’ contract extension is secure – is not the case. My information is that whether or not the Irish clause is enforced will be based on whether Deans can assemble around him an assistant coaching staff that engenders confidence in the ARU board.
Now, if you believe the spin, this coterie of coaches and consultants could well include coach du jour Ewen McKenzie. Despite knee deep bad blood between Link and John O’Neill, and the fact that he’s had zero consultation with Deans to date, suddenly it’s going to be happy families. We’ll get all of the good bits of Robbie with all the good bits of Link!
Please, please do me a favour and don’t buy this for one minute. Following the Wallabies dropping out of the World Cup Big John laid two classic bits of spin to take the piss and vinegar out of us. The first bought him time – “No point sacking me, I’m off in two years!”. The second was for Robbie – “Don’t choose between Robbie and Link – have us both!”. You gotta admire the guy.
Too cynical? Well think for a second why McKenzie would ever take this role. It isn’t going to get him any closer to the job – JO’N has already said it’ll be the choice of his successor, and no-one knows who’ll that will be.
If Link helps Deans and the team improves, then Robbie might even have a shot at the next RWC, to Link’s cost.
If the team continues to underperform, then Link is now part of that losing setup and tarred with the same brush. New CEO sweeps them all out and at the very least Link doesn’t get a grace period with which to fix the mess he is now part of.
On top of it all – Link is already on the record as saying “No thanks”! That the majority of the media is towing the line over such a bauble is just expedience – it tells naughty Robbie off without any nastiness (or anything actually happening).
So there’s no having the “dream coaching team”. But is all lost? If the board do enforce the Irish Clause, could McKenzie possibly take the role of Wallabies Head Coach? Many assume he must be contractually bound to the Reds. But ask yourself what his “contract” might look like. When he joined, the Reds were a franchise in dire straights both in results and finances. I dare say (with a wink and a nod) that should McKenzie want an out to the national spot, no piece of paper will be in the way.
You never know, having tried everything else, we might just end up making the tough, but right decisions. Don’t dream it’s over….