Dave Rennie was sacked as Wallabies coach in January this year. In hindsight, his tenure now looks spectacular.
Eddie Jones replaced Rennie. Jones created headlines – many positive to start with – before it went pear-shaped before, during and after the World Cup.
At the same time, Rugby Australia is seemingly at war with the Brumbies amidst fears RA is attempting a complete takeover of the Canberra-based Super Rugby team.
The optics could not be worse with the Brumbies, Australia’s most successful Super Rugby team, engaging lawyers.
So it’s lawyers at 20 paces in Canberra, lawyers working out an exit for Eddie Jones, and probably the same lawyers who negotiated Dave Rennie’s departure. Rennie was sacked with close to a year remaining on his contract.
There’s more certainty for lawyers in rugby than there is for coaches at the moment.
So, who should Rugby Australia pursue as their next coach?
In my mind, there is only one man for the job at this stage.
Dan McKellar coached the Brumbies for five years and was Rennie’s assistant at the Wallabies for two seasons before taking on the head coach role at the Leicester Tigers.
McKellar was up there with the top coaches in Brumbies history. This includes the likes of Jones and World Cup-winning coaches Rod McQueen and Jake White.
McKellar, who is six months into a three-year deal with Leicester, should never have been lost to Australian rugby in the first place.
I’m not privy to his contract details in terms of options and the ability to exit Leicester, but he would be worth at least a call.
Furthermore, McKellar, Laurie Fisher and Dan Palmer offer the perfect combination.
Steve Larkham is also worth considering. He showed last season that he has returned from Ireland a more complete coach.
Michael Cheika has also emerged as a contender following his success with Argentina at the World Cup.
While Rugby Australia is busy searching for another coach and fighting the Brumbies, we shouldn’t lose sight of the mismanagement of the code by the governing body.
After making the World Cup final in Japan, four years later, the Wallabies failed to make the quarter-finals for the first time.
What a mess.
To get things back on track, Rugby Australia should take the lead of the Brumbies, where the focus has been on developing a successful rugby program as the basis.