Rugby Australia is on the hunt for a new Wallabies coach, with Stephen Larkham and Dan McKellar emerging as the front-runners after Eddie Jones confirmed his resignation on Sunday. Less than two weeks after claiming he was "100 per cent" committed to leading the Wallabies through to the 2027 World Cup in Australia, Jones on Sunday night conceded he was quitting.
The 63-year-old Jones met with Rugby Australia bosses over the weekend and amicably agreed to his departure following the Wallabies' historic World Cup flop in France. The Aussies failed to make the quarter-finals for the first time in World Cup history, with Jones' decision to take a youthful squad to France backfiring spectacularly.
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The coach dropped veteran playmaker Quade Cooper and long-time captain Michael Hooper in favour of a youth movement that ultimately fell short. The Wallabies lost to Fiji for the first time in 59 years, then suffered a record 40-6 loss to Wales to miss progressing from the group stages for the first time in 10 editions of the World Cup.
After their controversial decision to appoint Jones in the first place to succeed the sacked Dave Rennie, Rugby Australia must now find a replacement. World Cup-winning legend Larkham and fellow former Wallabies assistant coach McKellar are expected to be RA's top targets.
McKellar was formerly the Wallabies' forwards coach and was publicly hailed as the man-in-waiting while Rennie was in charge. He quit his job at the Brumbies to concentrate on the Wallabies, but walked away from the national set-up soon after Jones was appointed.
The 47-year-old is currently the head coach at Leicester Tigers in the UK. While he once coveted the top Australian job, it may not hold the same lure it once did.
Stephen Larkham could become new Wallabies coach
RA may turn to current ACT Brumbies boss Larkham, who was the attacking coach under then-Wallabies mentor Michael Cheika at the 2015 World Cup. Larkham also had an acrimonious split with the national team in 2019 when he was blamed for Australia's run of poor results. The champion five-eighth then spent three years coaching Irish provincial side Munster, before returning to the Brumbies for the 2023 Super season.
Former Wallabies coach Cheika has also been linked to a second stint with the Aussie side after steering Argentina to the semi-finals of this year's World Cup. He also helped the Wallabies reach the final in 2015.
Following the Pumas' narrow loss in the third-place playoff against England, Cheika said he had "no idea" if he would continue as Argentina coach. "I haven't even thought about it. I'll go to Argentina later in the year and we will have a talk about how things went and what the future holds," he said.
A left-field option for RA would be to gamble on NSW coach Darren Coleman. He helped turn the Waratahs around in the last two years, taking them from wooden-spooners to Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finalists.
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