Australia remove assistant coach Stephen Larkham before Rugby World Cup 2019

Rugby Australia has removed Stephen Larkham from assistant coach job. He had strong differences with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. He is appointed as national performance national high-performance coach adviser. The decision to axe Stephen Larkham from attack coach post was made by head coach Michael Cheika. His removal is surprising because there are just little over seven months are left in the Rugby World Cup 2019.

Rugby Australia (RA) issued a statement: “Larkham will move into the new role with immediate effect after a decision was made by head coach Michael Cheika that Larkham should no longer continue in the role of assistant coach of the Wallabies”.

Australia remove assistant coach Stephen Larkham on head coach Michael Cheika's demand
Australia remove assistant coach Stephen Larkham on head coach Michael Cheika’s demand

Stephen Larkham had been attack coach since 27th October 2015. Michael Cheika had chosen him for assistant coach role after joining wallabies as head coach in 22nd October 2014. Michael Cheika and Stephen Larkham guided Australia to final of 2015 Rugby World Cup, where they eventually lost to New Zealand. Relationship between the two coaches deteriorated. They were not on same page regarding strategy and game philosophy. Stephen Larkham will focus on coach mentoring, coaching and skills development across Rugby Australia’s national programmes, including Australian sevens program, Junior Wallabies, state under-20s academies and Wallaroos.

Stephen Larkham said: “Ultimately Michael is responsible for the performance of the team. We have differences in attacking strategy and overall game philosophy. We couldn’t agree on these key points and it is in the best interest of the team that they receive clear and consistent messages from their coaches. I am obviously disappointed with this outcome as I had chosen to pursue the experience of taking the Wallabies through to the World Cup, however I am pleased to be able to continue coaching and contributing to Australian Rugby in this new role.”

Australia gone through worst season in 2018, winning just 4 out of 13 matches. This was worst win-loss record for Wallabies in 60 years. Rugby Australia reviewed dismal performance, but shown faith in coaching of Michael Cheika. RA though have roped in Scot Johnson for newly created post of Director of Rugby. Shuffling in team management has also resulted in resignation of Haydn Masters from head of athletic preparation job.