Monday’s rugby news has all the backlash from Saturday’s thumping, with Deans on the way out, the Rebels dropping O’Connor and Smith leaving the Test arena, while in international news, the Bulls and Sharks face the judiciary.
Deans departure imminent
Robbie Deans’ days as Wallabies coach appear to be numbered as the ARU begins to process the demoralising 41-16 thumping by the Lions in Saturday’s third Test. Far from defending the New Zealand-born coach, Bill Pulver said the ARU would ‘not be entering into any speculation or debate’ about Deans’ future. This comes despite reports top-level officials held discussions on Sunday, with a coaching announcement forecast in the coming days.
Deans seemed resigned to his fate post-match after an inconsistent six year run as Wallabies coach, saying: ‘You don’t presume anything in this industry. Those decisions are made by others, who knows.’ The ARU seems to be weighing up the merits of thriving provincial coaches Ewen McKenzie (Reds) and Jake White (Brumbies). While McKenzie has had a steady run of Super Rugby success, White led the Springboks to the 2007 World Cup.
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O’Connor dumped by Rebels
James O’Connor has been dumped by the Melbourne Rebels for the 2013 season after two injury-plagued years at the club and a slew of heavily criticised performances during the Lions series. O’Connor has also repeatedly had trouble off the field, most recently when he was out with teammate Kurtley Beale at Burger King at 4am just days before Australia’s must-win second Test against the Lions. Recent reports by Wayne Smith also state O’Connor and Beale let the team down again, after reportedly missing the bus to training in the lead up to the deciding Lions Test.
The Rebels, who have been not troubled finals organisers since joining Super Rugby in 2011 and are out the playoffs again this year, would not offer the 23-year-old a contract beyond 2013. ‘The club is entering the next phase of development,’ Rebels Chief Executive Rob Clarke said on Sunday. Apparently this stage will include fellow besieged Wallaby Beale, who the Rebels see as their new marquee player.
Smith calls quits on Test career
Wallabies legend George Smith insists that his Test career is over after Saturday’s loss to the Lions. The Brumbies flanker was despondent after the match, asserting that the record 41-16 pounding was one of the most painful of his 111-Test career. Smith, who returned from a sickening head clash with Lions hooker Richard Hibbard, lamented his uncharacteristic ineffectiveness at the breakdown. ‘The impact that I envisioned before the game, coming out to do it, didn’t eventuate,’ Smith said.
Smith reiterated that his future now lies with helping the Brumbies win the Super Rugby title before returning to his Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, adding, ‘I think it’s time for the young guys and the guys who have been working hard within Australian rugby to have a chance.’
South African suspensions
In the aftermath of the tough encounter between the Bulls and the Sharks on the weekend, Butch James has been suspended from all forms of the game for four weeks after pleading guilty to a dangerous tackle charge. Although issued a yellow card for a reckless high tackle on Bulls fullback Jurgen Visseri in the 72nd minute, further review of the match footage by the citing commissioner deemed that the incident was worthy of a red card for foul play.
While unpunished during the match, Bulls lock Wilhelm Steenkamp will also front a SANZAR judicial hearing today for allegedly headbutting James in a ruck in the 63rd minute of Saturday’s encounter.