Rugby Australia boss Hamish McLennan has opened up about a number of key issues facing the sport, including the controversial second tenure of Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones.
McLennan was behind the move to dump Dave Rennie a year out from the Rugby World Cup and reinstate Jones, who previously held the role from 2001-2005.
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It has been an unmitigated disaster thus far, with the Wallabies winning just one of Jones’ eight matches in charge and facing a first elimination ever in the group stage of the World Cup.
In the build-up to the clash with the Welsh on Monday morning AEST, it was reported that Jones had conducted a job interview with Japanese rugby just prior to the World Cup, which the coach rubbished.
Now McLennan has conceded he is fully aware of a job offer made to Jones, stating the 63-year-old had turned it down in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
“I understand Eddie has a standing offer from Japan and they respect his many outstanding coaching achievements,” McLennan said.
“I accept his word to (Rugby Australia chief executive) Phil Waugh there is nothing in it.
“His agent also said the same thing to me.”
Rugby Australia is facing more pressure than perhaps any time in its history, with the Wallabies performing dreadfully at the World Cup amid calls for Jones and McLennan to step down immediately.
After a victory over Georgia to start the tournament in France, the Australian side has suffered consecutive losses to Fiji and Wales.
McLennan, who has also been abused by Australian rugby supporters in France, said he has no intention of quitting and instead has a long-term focus in his role.
In May last year, Australia was awarded hosting rights for the next men’s World Cup in 2027 and the women’s edition two years later.
In a slightly concerning admission, McLennan is looking to those events a full four years from now as the potential saviour of the floundering code.
“I feel very accountable,” McLennan said. “In fact (the loss to Wales was) one of the worst days in my professional life, but we must seize the opportunity to fix the system once and for all.
“The pathway is clear if the rugby community wants to get behind it. I need everyone’s help.
“I’m not inclined to (quit) as we have some significant opportunities we are close to landing and I want to maximise the opportunities with the men’s and women’s World Cup in ‘27 and ‘29.
“These events will transform rugby and give us the necessary runway to fix the game.”
In a widely splashed column from former Wallabies coach Alan Jones since the Welsh disaster, he called for the immediate resignations of Jones and McLennan.
The resolve of the Rugby Australia boss is unmoved.
“I know Alan. He’s a complicated man but entitled to his opinion,” McLennan said.
“There are no absolute guarantees in life but I have some history of turning organisations around when the going gets tough.
“I’m not one to abandon the ship when you hit choppy waters.”