Cheika quits as Wallabies coach

OITA (Japan) • Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, 52, quit yesterday after their humiliating World Cup quarter-final exit against England, drawing the curtain on a five-year reign that started strongly but ended in criticism and disappointment.

His contract expires at the end of the year and Cheika had previously indicated he would not reapply for his job if they failed to win the tournament.

Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie, a New Zealander, is seen as the front-runner to replace him.

After testily refusing to comment on his plans in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's 40-16 defeat by Eddie Jones' England, Cheika confirmed it was his last game in charge.

"I put my chips in earlier in the year, I told people no win, no play," he said. "I knew from the final whistle but I just wanted to give it that little bit of time to settle down... and then make it clear."

Cheika, who narrowly avoided the axe after a horror season last year when Australia won just four of 13 Tests, had come under fire over his tactics in the tournament.

The Sydney Telegraph said he had taken the Wallabies backwards, with his planning "exposed as a failure", while Fox Sports Australia claimed there was "passion without intelligence".

His tenure was marked by a successful 2015 World Cup campaign in which Australia reached the final, only to be beaten by the All Blacks. It earned him the World Coach of the Year accolade.

In a bombshell on his departure, Cheika revealed he barely had a relationship with the Rugby Australia hierarchy.

"It is no secret I have no relationship with the CEO (Raelene Castle) and not much with the chairman (Cameron Clyne)," he said.

In a statement, Castle thanked Cheika for his "dedication and service".

"Michael is a passionate and experienced coach who worked tirelessly to get the best out his players," she said, adding that Scott Johnson, the director of rugby, would lead a full review, with much work already completed in "preparing for the future".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Cheika quits as Wallabies coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe