After Rugby Australia celebrated the NSW Waratahs formally joining their “integrated” ticket, RA has stated they won’t rush to name a replacement for Eddie Jones as Wallabies coach. And while CEO Phil Waugh has tried to ease fears of mismanagement and hostile takeovers, the fact that there are so many plates spinning does little to alleviate fears after one of the worst years in Australian rugby history.
As RA attempts to usher through reform measures, including the move to an aligned system, the national body is without a head coach or the person the coach will report to. The appointment of a new director of high-performance is not likely to occur any time soon, with the national body intent on naming a new head of high-performance by Christmas before moving onto choosing Jones’ replacement.
Waugh was reluctant to “commit to a timeline” but told reporters that the director would be in place before the process of finding the next Wallabies coach. Additionally, it’s not just the absence of key figures that is concerning the Super Rugby franchises, but the lack of detail across RA’s entire plan to move to a system where the governing body oversees the high-performance and commercial portfolios across the entire professional arm of rugby in the country.
In principle, all five Super Rugby franchises agree that greater alignment with regards to high performance is essential. However, the Brumbies still have issues with RA’s leadership due to the lack of detail regarding who is running the programs and how they work. With noise that RA is entertaining returning to four Super Rugby franchises, the Brumbies also want to ensure their own future in Canberra is safe.
Although Waugh moved to address those fears, stating that the Brumbies’ future in the nation’s capital was secure, he emphasized the need to build trust with stakeholders to ensure the reform measures can be carried out. And while there is an integration push, concerns about financial struggles and takeovers have been raised.
Despite the concerns, the Waratahs chief executive stated that handing over control to RA was more of a necessity than a leap of faith. He also mentioned that their decision wasn’t based on insolvency and that they aim to invest money into community rugby. Additionally, it was clarified that RA was not attempting a takeover of the states and that it was more about integration, partnership, and alignment. At the end of the day, it’s important to build trust and unity within the Australian rugby community.