BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) – Under-fire Australia coach Ewen McKenzie announced his shock resignation Saturday minutes after the narrow 28-29 defeat to New Zealand and following speculation about player discontent and his private life.
Officials said McKenzie had earlier told them he intended to quit regardless of the result of the game in Brisbane, which the Wallabies were seconds from winning before a last-gasp try.
“I did not ask Ewen to resign, but understand his decision,” Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive Bill Pulver said in a statement.
“He informed me this morning of his intention to resign, regardless of tonight’s result.”
Pulver said he hoped to secure a replacement before Friday, when the team leaves for a European tour, and that criteria include having the “support of the playing group”.
McKenzie … shock resignation
Fellow players have voiced their backing of Kurtley Beale, who is facing disciplinary proceedings after an argument with a female staff member and claims he sent offensive text messages.
McKenzie was forced to deny rumours of an intimate relationship with the staff member, who announced her resignation last week citing stress over the situation.
Pulver said as well as a new coach, the ARU would also try to improve the “off-field” workings of the team and create a new senior leadership position.
“Criteria for the (coaching) role includes identifying a coach who can lead us to victory in next year’s Rugby World Cup; represents rugby’s core values; has the support of the playing group; and is available,” he said.
“As part of this process, we will also identify structural improvements to the off-field element of the Wallabies, with a senior leadership role to be created to support the team.
“We will work with the incoming coach on that structure, with a solution to be in place as soon as possible.”