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Ex-captain to lead Australia review into World Cup flop under Jones

Former Australia rugby coach Eddie Jones. Photo: AFP

Former Australia captain Andrew Slack will lead an external review dissecting the Wallabies’ dismal year and early World Cup exit as ex-coach Eddie Jones said he had no regrets.

A three-member panel will examine why Australia unravelled so badly under Jones, who quit this week.

Ex-Wallaby Justin Harrison, who is chief executive of the rugby union players’ association, and industry expert Darlene Harrison will help determine what went wrong, with their findings due by the end of the year.

Jones was hailed as Australian rugby’s saviour when he was appointed in January but they won only two times in nine Tests, culminating in their exit from the World Cup in the group stage.

“As rugby fans we were all disappointed in the results at the World Cup—the performance was not good enough for a proud rugby nation like ours,” Rugby Australia chief Phil Waugh said on Thursday.

“Andrew, Justin and Darlene are highly respected and I believe they possess the credentials to be able to deliver a thorough and considered external review.”

Slack was captain when the Wallabies won all four games on their tour of Britain and Ireland in 1984.

He also skippered the side to their 1986 Bledisloe Cup victory on New Zealand soil, and led them at the inaugural World Cup a year later.

Jones, who will officially leave his role on November 25, barely 10 months into a five-year contract, admitted the results had been disappointing, but blamed the “system”.

“I went in there with a plan and the contract reinforced the plan and the commitment of both myself and Rugby Australia to fulfil obligations,” the BBC quoted him as saying in Cardiff on Wednesday.

“We had a bit of discourse in the obligations. So why should I have any regrets?

“I went in with a plan of how to change the system and that’s unable to be changed. I felt my job would be compromised for the next four years, which I wasn’t prepared to do,” he added.

Jones reportedly had exit clauses related to the governing body securing private equity investment and moving to a centralised governance system with its state unions to grow the game. Neither has yet happened.

Australia have two years to rebuild for a British and Irish Lions tour in 2025, before they host the World Cup two years later.

The search for a new coach is under way with Dan McKellar, who is currently in charge of English side Leicester, and former Wallabies fly-half Stephen Larkham touted as frontrunners.

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