Dave Rennie breaks silence on Wallabies sacking
REACTION: Sacked Wallabies coach Dave Rennie insisted he had the support of the players and staff as his successor Eddie Jones laid out his vision of a more attacking style of rugby from a “super-fit” Australian team.
New Zealander Rennie, who took over from Michael Cheika at the end of 2019, was shown the door on Monday after only five wins from 14 Tests last year.
Rennie said he had received hundreds of messages of support from current and former players, coaches, administrators and others since his shock firing.
“The support has been immense and much appreciated from the more than 500 messages I’ve received,” he said in his first comments since being let go.
“I’ve loved my time with the team. They’re outstanding young men who are keen to learn and prepared to work hard.”
Rennie, who is well respected, has been linked with a move to Kobe Steelers in Japan.
He made no comment on his future, only saying that he was “disappointed I won’t be able to see out my contract in the way I agreed to back in 2019”.
“But [I] leave knowing I had the full support of the playing group and the staff,” he added.
“I certainly felt we have made massive shifts over the past three years both on and off the field, which is off the back of a hell of a lot of hard work put in by good people.”
Jones will assume the reins on January 29, his second stint in charge after his 2001-2005 spell during which he took the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup Final.
They lost that game on home soil to England, thanks to a last-minute drop-goal from Jonny Wilkinson.
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The 62-year-old’s deal will take him through to the 2027 World Cup in Australia and he said there was unfinished business.
“To be honest, I never really thought about getting the opportunity to coach Australia again. The first time in 2005, that was a difficult time,” Jones, who was axed by England in December, told reporters.
“You’re coaching your country and it gets taken away from you, but you move on and just get on with it, then re-focus on what you’re doing.
“It’s been 18 years since I’ve coached Australia and, in that time, I’ve coached South Africa, Japan and England. I’ve won a World Cup final, lost a World Cup final, and now I get a chance to coach my own country so it’s quite humbling,” he added.
Jones, a renowned hard taskmaster, said he was determined to turn things around for Australia, with clear ideas on where the side can improve.
“This [Australia] team is not too far away. Dave Rennie has done a great job under difficult circumstances, as they were probably affected more by Covid than most countries,” he said.
“We’ll need to find a point of difference. That might be going back to that more aggressive, attacking Australian style of rugby, with a more aggressive defence. Really playing like a traditional Australian side did.
“We want to get super fit,” he added. “There are parts of the modern game where you have to play the way it is now, but there are other parts where you can go back to tradition.
“Australia were traditionally flat at the line, numbers at the line, asking questions of the opposition, and making good decisions. That’s what we want to do.”
While the Wallabies is Jones’ main focus, he will be back at Twickenham on May 28 to lead the Barbarians against a World XV, a task he is savouring.
“I can’t wait to coach the Barbarians again this year – I had that commitment written into my new contract. It’ll be a great challenge,” he said.