22 Jun 2020

Rennie was never walking away from Wallabies

2:09 pm on 22 June 2020

The incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie never had any intention of walking away from the job in the wake of fellow New Zealander Raelene Castle being sacked as CEO of Rugby Australia.

The former Glasgow and Chiefs coach Rennie is in COVID-19 quarantine in Auckland and not likely to arrive in Australia until after Super Rugby Australia's start on July 3rd.

Castle was key to recruiting Rennie to the role in the wake of Michael Cheika's departure but she stepped down from the role in April after coming under pressure for Rugby Australia's poor results on the field and financial struggles off it.

Australian media reports suggested that would mean Rennie would walk away too.

"There's been a lot made about Raelene's departure and she is a big part of why I signed with the Wallabies ...(but) I had signed a contract so I was committed.

"I was really looking forward to Raelene. I rate her - high character and tough," he said.

'Father and Son' - Dave Rennie (right) and Aaron Cruden

Dave Rennie's time at the Chiefs ended in 2017. Photo: Photosport

"She's had a tough time from all quarters but she is resilient and had to take things on the chin to take Australian rugby forward...but she rang me to tell me what was happening and I was incredibly disappointed as I would have loved to have worked with her.

"You talk to her staff and people love her. She's got a really high EQ (emotional quotient). Your CEO's are generally smart whatever business you are in but her ability to connect with staff and people is outstanding so I was looking forward to working with her."

However Rennie said walking away wasn't an option as others had signed or are about to sign on with the union because he has moved there and he has a responsibility to them.

Despite Rugby Australia's woes over the past year or two - the Israel Folau saga, the Wallabies poor World Cup performance and the sports financial struggles Rennie is up beat about the sport future.

"Often through media there's lot of stories that don't paint a great picture about Australian rugby but there's lots of good things happening and there's lots of good people involved in the game who are passionate about the future so I just think we have all got to pull in the same direction.

As for the return of international rugby in the near future he's confident as many as four Bledisloe tests between the Wallabies and All Blacks will be able to be held this year, but he's unsure when and he has slim hopes the Rugby Championship, which involves South Africa and Argentina, will go ahead at all.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle in a news conference after Israel Folau's anti-gay comments in April last year.

Former Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle. Photo: AFP