Rugby Australia announces recommendations from 2023 Wallabies season review

Thu, Mar 7, 2024, 12:01 AM
Rugby Australia
by Rugby Australia
Rugby Australia (RA) has released the 23 recommendations from the external review conducted into the Wallabies’ 2023 season, including the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Getty Images
Rugby Australia (RA) has released the 23 recommendations from the external review conducted into the Wallabies’ 2023 season, including the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Getty Images

Rugby Australia (RA) has released the 23 recommendations from the external review conducted into the Wallabies’ 2023 season, including the Rugby World Cup.

The review was undertaken by a four-person panel incorporating former internationals Andrew Slack and Justin Harrison, as well as renowned industry expert Darlene Harrison and Pasifika Advisor Moana Leilua.

Its scope saw the panel review the strategy and structure of the Wallabies’ performance environment in 2023 and considered ways to improve the High-Performance (HP) program for the future.

Incorporating 94 participants, the review outlined 23 recommendations for RA, with the governing body having already begun addressing the key areas via restructuring of its HP department, and the recruitment of Peter Horne as Director of High-Performance, David Nucifora as a High-Performance Advisor, and Joe Schmidt as Wallabies Head Coach within the new structure.

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh says the governing body is currently implementing many of the recommendations put forward in the review.

“Following the Rugby World Cup last year, we began to systematically apply structural and personnel changes to address a significant number of the improvement opportunities raised in the review.

“Last season was a unique situation with a unique set of circumstances, and it was important for us to hold an external process to get a very detailed and honest evaluation from the stakeholders – especially the players.

“This will allow us to process the 2023 season and use it to build a stronger Wallabies program.

“We have been stressing the importance of an aligned and united Rugby ecosystem across all levels, and it is essential that the Wallabies lead the way – the Wallabies are an important team to Australia, with a long and storied history.

“I would like to thank each of the members of the review panel for their professionalism, thoroughness and sensitivity throughout this process – I am confident that this review will help draw a line in the sand as we strive to implement the processes and structures that will drive the Wallabies towards a successful future.”

Recommendations were grouped into five categories:

HP strategy

  • Develop a national high-performance strategy with a focus on delivering an integrated model to optimise performance across Super Rugby and national teams.
  • Create a High-Performance Advisory Group to access more HP expertise, and to complement the expertise within RA and its Board – RA will evaluate its existing Rugby Committee and identify opportunities to broaden its knowledge base.
  • Develop a systematic review cycle for national teams including standardised methodology.
  • Agree set metrics for board and executive to conduct regular reviews to drive stronger accountability and transparency.

Wallabies and HP programs

  • Reset the formal player leadership structure of the Wallabies.
  • Implement a shared leadership model across players and coaches.
  • Establish more clearly defined roles and responsibilities for coaching staff and team captain in selection process.
  • Refine the team selection process to be more transparent for players.
  • Development of cohesive training and program principles to establish more clarity for players.
  • Employ an experienced S&C expert to lead physical preparation in collaboration with Super Rugby clubs.
  • Consider optimisation of Wallabies HP support team; numbers, roles, competency and experience levels, integration into broader HP system with SR clubs.
  • New Director of HP (Peter Horne) to manage stakeholder expectations and set clear priorities that are understood across HP system.
  • Develop success profiles for Wallabies coaching team.

Culture

  • Foster greater interaction between RA Board and national players, to build trust, promote transparency & improve culture.
  • Investigate measures to build greater connection between players and leadership – and leverage to facilitate more cooperative behaviours, build group cohesion and trust.
  • Create an environment that is built on trust with an emphasis on player and staff welfare.
  • Design and embed a Wallabies Team Legacy with input from the playing group.
  • Build cultural capability and embed culturally inclusive practices within the Wallabies environment and across the HP system.

Governance

  • RA to undertake a governance review with regard to HP.
  • Review of current HP practices and policies to ensure ‘fit-for-purpose’ policies and processes – i.e. safeguarding framework, duty of care charter, robust escalation/whistleblowing process.
  • RA to review its HP recruitment, selection and transition processes.

National coaching program

  • RA to consider development of a national HP and leadership strategy that prioritises development and acquisition of technical experts and Rugby leaders.
  • Evaluate a customised national approach to leadership development across coaches, players, staff and executive.

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