McKenzie steps down as Wallabies coach

MELBOURNE - The Australian Rugby Union yesterday announced that Ewen McKenzie has resigned as the Wallabies head coach.

McKenzie announced his resignation after the Wallabies 29-28 defeat to the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium.

Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver paid tribute to McKenzie who has led Australia in 22 Tests since starting in the role in August 2013.

“I did not ask Ewen to resign, but understand his decision. He informed me this morning of his intention to resign, regardless of tonight’s result.”

“Ewen is a world-class coach and a world-class individual who has been committed to playing entertaining Rugby for our fans since he started in the role.

“During his tenure, he has overseen a seven match winning streak, drew against the All Blacks and beat South Africa – all achievements that had not been met in the previous year.

“We sincerely wish Ewen well for the future professionally and personally.”

Pulver said the process to find a replacement has now begun.

“We hope to have the new Head Coach in place before the team leaves for the Spring Tour on Friday.”

“Criteria for the 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.

“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,” Pulver said.

The All Blacks, although having looked vulnerable again, bounced back from their loss to South Africa by stealing the game in the 82nd minute - when replacement Colin Slate converted a Malakai Fekitoa try after the Wallabies had lead for most of the match.

It was a game of great entertainment and exciting expansive rugby. But most of all, it was in the balance till the end.

As for the Wallabies, they will be heartbroken at a third consecutive loss, but will be heartened by the quality of a much-improved performance.

The Wallaby scrum was under constant pressure, with James Slipper coughing up a number of penalties. The home team's line-outs were also not always as accurate as what they would have liked.

However, the Wallabies still managed to find enough possession and they had earmarked the Beauden Barrett-Malakai Fekitoa combination as a defensive weakness - targeting that area as an option to exploit ... with some success.

The other aspect that worked for the Wallabies was their ability to change the point of attack often, although their restarts left a lot to be desired.

What the All Blacks did better than the Wallabies was to hold onto the ball when it mattered most - in the closing stages.

Both teams conceded some early penalties, but the most telling aspect was the tempo and enthusiasm they injected into the game. – Agencies

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