These are the times we live in – money people make superficial decisions about people and sports without due consideration. In football, Premier League clubs have already sacked five managers this season and there’s a good chance Frank Lampard and David Moyes will become number six and seven respectively. Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A sacked a total of 21 managers last season.
If McLennan was in charge of Manchester United in 1990, would he have sacked Alex Ferguson? In Ferguson’s three seasons in charge, United had finished 11th, 2nd and then 11th again.
In 1990 they had just been beaten 5-1 by a Manchester City side who weren’t remotely the force they are now. One infamous banner read, “3 years of excuses and it still sucks…ta-ra Fergie”. With someone else’s supervision, Ferguson might have gotten the golden boot and the future would have been shattered.
And sadly, that’s exactly what happened to Rennie, despite the potential parallels between Fergie’s United and Rennie’s Australia in terms of schedule, results and evolving culture.
In 2020, Rennie had inherited a squad that was a bit in tatters after the Israel Folau affair and various other scandals. His first task, and it was a big one, was to bring back decency, trust and loyalty. Once that was established, Rennie set about developing the young players – the future – just as Ferguson had done.
Recognizing this work, Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “Dave has been instrumental in developing much of the depth that we are seeing in and around the current Wallabies squad; There are a number of players who are real World Cup potentials because of the opportunities Dave has provided. 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 really shaped this group of players.”
That’s what Rennie does. Former All Black coach Wayne Smith said: “Dave is a team builder. He’s his own man, he’s fighting for himself… He’s a community man, Dave, he’s clearly spreading the word in rugby brotherhood. He is in good hands there. There are again many people supporting the game. It must be good.”
Good, and it would only get better. In 2016, an Australian side that had played in a World Cup final and which included Folau and David Pocock lost to a naïve English side 3-0 on an aggregate score of 106-75. Last year, without any of their top 10 players available, Rennies Australia lost 2-1 to a much better team from England, with an aggregate score of 74-64.
Despite the ravages of Covid, with Rennie selflessly taking a 30 per cent pay cut, Australia is clearly making progress. I thought if they could avoid injuring key players they would have a real chance of winning the World Cup.
They still do but it will be Rennie’s Australia coached by someone else.
Eddie has previously admitted that Rennie has done a good job in difficult circumstances and I’m sure he would doff his cap when the moment came.
But it’s a bloody deal and one wonders what price current Australian players will now demand for loyalty.
As for Rennie, I wish him the best. When I asked Smith what he thought of him once, in another galaxy, a long, long time ago, the professor wrote back from Guangzhou of all places; “Special. Think of him as an AB coach. Brilliant, values people and fairness.”
Sounds like the kind of person you’d go into the jungle with.
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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/the-shallow-shame-of-rugby-australia-and-its-sacking-of-dave-rennie-20230118-p5cdeq.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Dave Rennie dismisses sad charges against Rugby Australia, Hamish McLennan