Australian rugby gets ugly: War of words erupts between bitter outgoing coach and his boss after the Wallabies’ embarrassing World Cup exit
- Wallabies boss Michael Cheika has quit after world cup thrashing to England
- He said he has ‘got no relationship’ with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle
- Castle hit back, saying his five-year tenure has been disappointing
- Former players put the boot in as Quade Cooper said he should have quit sooner
Outgoing Wallabies boss Michael Cheika has admitted he does not get on with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle.
In a tense press conference after England thrashed Australia in the World Cup on Saturday night, Cheika said: ‘I’ve pretty much got no relationship with the CEO’.
The coach, who quit after the game, defended his record over five years in charge – but Castle hit back, saying his tenure has been disappointing.
‘I don’t think anyone would think that we have been satisfied with the results. I think it has been a very challenging time,’ she told reporters.
Outgoing Wallabies boss Michael Cheika (pictured on Saturday) has admitted he does not get on with Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle
Veteran fly-half Quade Cooper (pictured with model girlfriend Laura Dundovic) said Cheika should have quit earlier
Castle was not the only one to put the boot in as scores of former players lined up to criticise the 52-year-old.
Veteran fly-half Quade Cooper said Cheika should have quit earlier, tweeting: ‘If he actually cared about Aus rugby he would have done it a while ago.’
And Waratahs star Curtis Rona reacted to his departure by writing ‘yew’ – an expression of excitement – on his Twitter account.
Less than 24 hours after the loss, Cheika exposed what he said was a dysfunctional relationship with both chief executive Raelene Castle and chairman Cameron Clyne.
He also said he felt uncomfortable working in the new Wallabies coaching structure in which he was answerable to director of rugby Scott Johnson, who took up the role early this year.
‘I think it’s no secret that I’ve pretty much got no relationship with the CEO and not much with the chairman,’ Cheika said.
‘Scott’s a lovely bloke and I get on fine with him but I’m sort of not really into that type of thing.’
The coach will finish up as one of the least successful Australian coaches of the modern era after announcing he won’t seek an extension to his five years in charge after the Wallabies’ World Cup failure in Japan.
Castle (pictured) hit back, saying Cheika’s tenure has been disappointing
The 40-16 loss to England in the quarter-finals was the country’s heaviest defeat in any World Cup match and leaves Cheika with 34 wins from his 68 in charge since taking the reins in October 2014.
He matched the 50 per cent record of predecessor Ewen McKenzie, who had a much shorter term, but otherwise none of the past nine Wallabies coaches dating back to 1982 have had such a modest record.
It was downplayed by Chieka to reporters, who quizzed him on his legacy after he’d announced he’d quit on Sunday.
‘I can’t be 100 per cent sure of the numbers but I think I’m half and half for wins, which isn’t too dissimilar to the average across the board,’ he said.
‘We weren’t able to deliver consistency over the whole time, I don’t think.
‘We had some great moments and I think that comes with the challenges we’ve got around losing players overseas, young players coming through etc.
‘But at the end of the day, all that stuff’s pretty irrelevant. It’s about doing your best in the situation that we have.’
Australia won seven straight games in 2015, including their charge to the World Cup final that year.
After that, they never won more than four on the trot and silverware eluded Cheika at Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup level.
Wallabies Kurtley Beale, Samu Kerevi and James O’Connor all praised him in the immediate wake of the England loss.
Cheika said his team simply wasn’t good enough in Japan, something for which he must carry the can as much as anyone.
‘There were fine margins in many of the games,’ he said.
‘Our best wasn’t good enough on this occasion, in this tournament.’
Christian Lealiifano of Australia embraces Tevita Kuridrani following his side’s defeat during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between England and Australia