Dave Rennie is out and Eddie Jones is the man to replace him after the Wallabies caught the rugby world off-guard by announcing the former would be sacked. Rennie, who has coached the Wallabies since 2020, will farewell the side with roughly eight months to go before the Rugby World Cup.
Already under pressure to retain the head coaching position after the Wallabies' uninspiring 2023 season, Rennie's contract was due to expire at the end of 2023. With the World Cup fast approaching, Rugby Australia has reportedly turned to former coach Eddie Jones.
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Jones was sacked by England in December, and had reportedly been in talks to rejoin the Wallabies in some capacity. Those reports were rejected by Rennie as recently as last week, who said Jones would not have a role to play for the Wallabies at the World Cup, as well as rejecting suggestions he had been negotiating a deal to coach Japan after his contract with Rugby Australia expired.
Instead, Jones will step into the hot seat with a limited amount of preparation time for the World Cup, which will kick off in France in September. Some 18 years after first coaching Australia, Jones will reportedly ink a five-year deal with the Wallabies.
Of all Wallabies coaches to take charge in at least 30 matches, Rennie bears the unfortunate distinction of having the lowest winning percentage, 38 per cent. Jones is set to take over from January 9. Fans were stunned by the sudden announcement, but many were pleased by the return of Jones to the top job.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to come home to Australia and lead my nation to a Rugby World Cup," Jones said. "It is going to be an immense period for Australian Rugby - as a proud Australian, it is a great honour to be able to come home and lead the national team during these years.
"The Wallabies squad is a really talented group of players with good depth - if we can have everyone fit and healthy going into the World Cup this year, I am confident that we can go to France and break the 24-year drought of winning the Rugby World Cup.
"I saw how gutsy the Wallaroos were in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year - it looks like there is a real spirit in that group that will drive the women's program forward ahead of their next World Cup in 2025. I am really looking forward to getting back home and getting stuck in."
Eddie Jones to return to Wallabies after 18 years
Jones was cut loose by England Rugby in December, despite boasting a vasty superior record in comparison to Rennie's with the Wallabies. He lead England to a notional-best winning percentage of 73 per cent under his guidance.
The lengthy deal will see Jones at the helm during the Wallabies' home series against the British and Irish Lions in 2025 and 2027 World Cup in Australia.
"It is a major coup for Australian Rugby to have the best coach in the world return home to coach the iconic Wallabies and to oversee the Wallaroos program," RA Chairman Hamish McLennan said.
"Eddie's deep understanding of our rugby system and knowledge of our player group and pathways will lift the team to the next level. Eddie instinctively understands the Australian way of playing rugby - this represents an opportunity to secure a coach of immense expertise and experience at the biggest competitions, and we did not want to miss it."
RA chief executive Andy Marinos credited Rennie for building the squad's depth after the New Zealander was hit hard by key injuries during his tenure.
"The work ethic, the spirit within the group, and the way the team carries itself are all a direct result of Dave's input," he said. He has made a real mark on this group of players."
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