Rugby Australia commences review into Waratahs as pressure mounts on Coleman ahead of Brumbies clash


The Super Rugby season is not yet at the halfway point, but a review of Darren Coleman’s Waratahs is already underway.

The Roar can reveal that Rugby Australia this week started their review into the Waratahs, who earlier this year handed over their Super Rugby license to the national governing body.

It’s believed Mike Chu – a high performance manager with World Rugby, who previously worked for New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Canada – has been tasked with running the review.

Waratahs players this week were told they might be tapped on their shoulder to help with the review.

It comes as RA, together with NSW Rugby, consider whether to offer Coleman an extension, with his entire coaching team off contract at season’s end.

But after just one win from their opening six matches, which has included four straight defeats of less than seven points, all signs point to a changing of the guard.

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Darren Coleman’s future is on the line, with Rugby Australia starting their review. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The unusual timing of the review comes as RA looks to give clarity to all parties, with Coleman keen to work out his future.

The governing body wants to get their house in order as quickly as possible too, particularly with a British and Irish Lions tour only 15 months away.

Should there be a change in the head coaching role, Coleman’s assistant Jason Gilmore, Junior Wallabies coach Nathan Grey, and Michael Cheika, the franchise’s only Super Rugby winning mentor and the 2015 World Rugby coach of the year, are the three favourites.

Gilmore denied the off-field uncertainty was impacting the Waratahs’ season.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“We’re aware of what’s going on and all that type of thing.

“You’ve just got to park it.

“If you get too caught up and live in that space then you’re going to die in that space as well.

“The boys have been really good. Their intensity and application at training have been excellent.”

Gilmore, who also coaches Australia A and led the Junior Wallabies to the 2019 under-20s world championship final in Argentina, added some clarity would help.

“It’s always nice to know and have clarity of what’s going to happen,” he said.

Harry Johnson-Holmes of the Waratahs looks dejected after the final Rebels try during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium, on March 29, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

While a lot of the attention has been on the Waratahs’ on-field struggles, several figures are also looking at the back office, including chief executive Paul Doorn.

Questions have long been bubbling in the background as to how the Waratahs have gone from having a net positive to a net deficit extending into several millions of dollars.

Nor has the Waratahs’ move from a demountable set up to one of Australian rugby’s finest high performance facilities helped on the field either.

The return to Allianz Stadium hasn’t helped either, with the Waratahs struggling on the field.

Those struggles have seen crowds hover between 10 and 15,000.

The uncertainty at Daceyville comes as the Waratahs look to snap an 11-game losing streak against the Brumbies, which included last year’s 40-36 heartbreaking defeat at the death in Canberra.

That four-point defeat came just days after Brumbies chairman Matt Nobbs lit the fuse by saying the rivalry had gone cold and was dead.

On Thursday, Gilmore said there was still plenty of meaning between the arch-rivals.

“Probably to an administrator it is, potentially, but I think if you look at how the two teams have battled it out, it doesn’t look dead to me. It’s on,” he said.

“In my time here every game’s been a real battle from both sides.

“Whether it’s dead or not, I’ll leave a bloke behind the desk describe that but I know from a footy point of view this is a big game.

“This week naturally you get up for it.

This week’s about effort, execution and keeping your detail good.”

Jason Gilmore says the Waratahs want clarity on the future, but the off-field distractions won’t affect them against the Brumbies on Saturday in Canberra. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Gilmore said the match up would be “personal” for the playing group, with new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt bound to be watching closely.

“Playing the Brumbs is always a big derby, it’s like playing the Reds, heavily stacked with Wallabies in their forward pack in particular, there’s a couple of our boys that see this as a personal challenge as well,” he said.

“It’s going to be a big battle up front.”

But Lachie Swinton, who admitted it had been a “grind” to get to his 50th match, said the Waratahs couldn’t afford to look beyond this weekend.

“We’ve got to focus on ourselves at the moment and look after our backyard and start winning before that (international selection) starts poking its head up,” he said.

“It’s quite a good match-up across the board from 1-15. It is somewhat personal.”

Swinton added that the Waratahs were embracing the underdog tag.

“We’re going down there swinging and when we’ve been in these positions, we’ve shown up,” he said. “It’s all ahead of us.”

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