As the rugby world buzzes with the news of Eddie Jones’ departure from the Wallabies coaching role, there’s a name that might just be the key to unlocking Australia’s rugby future: Ian Foster.
Jones, who once vowed to turn the Wallabies into world-beaters, has reportedly quit his post as head coach. His departure is sure to leave a sour taste in the mouths of Australian rugby fans.
It comes following a disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign that saw the Wallabies fail to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time in the tournament’s 36-year history and suffer one of their worst losses, going down to Fiji for the first time in 69 years.
Jones’ time at the helm has been a turbulent bullride for Australian supporters. What stings even more is the revelation that he had been in discussions with Japan to replace outgoing coach Jamie Joseph, despite being under contract until the 2027 World Cup in Australia. If true, for a coach to engage in conversations during a crucial tournament with another nation is nothing short of a disgrace.
While Jones had his moments, his tenure was marred by defeats and unmet expectations. He may have talked the talk, but the results didn’t walk the walk. His comments upon returning to Australia about “eating shit for others to eat caviar” may reflect his personal outlook, but it does little to console a nation that hoped for more than empty promises. While the statement might sound philosophical, the reality is that Wallabies fans were left to “eat shit” while Jones looked to greener pastures.
Enter outgoing All Blacks coach Ian Foster, whose journey was marked by trials and tribulations.
Foster faced his share of critics since taking over after the 2019 World Cup, with a series of long-reported firsts – first defeat to Argentina, first test series loss to Ireland, and a six-test run featuring five losses. He achieved the seemingly impossible at the 2023 World Cup, though, leading the All Blacks to a quarter-final win over Ireland and to the final where they lost to South Africa 12-11 on Sunday.
He took the reins after more than a decade of unparalleled dominance, featuring legends like Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, and Ma’a Nonu who retired before he started. But Foster didn’t flinch and helped develop a new generation of legends, including the likes of Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith and Sam Cane. It’s like replacing Michael Jordan but somehow still making the playoffs.
Foster’s story of redemption is captivating. Despite calls for his resignation amid heavy media and public scrutiny, he persisted. New Zealand Rugby even named his successor, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, before the World Cup had started. Foster defied the odds, leading the least-fancied team in All Blacks World Cup history to the tournament’s final. It’s a testament to his character and commitment. Those are values the Wallabies and its fans could use and deserve.
Jones’ departure is a bitter pill to swallow but it could also be the turning point Australian rugby, once a powerhouse of the sport, needs.
Foster’s journey, much like the Wallabies’ recent struggles, has had its fair share of setbacks but he’s proven that success can follow adversity. While Foster’s future remains uncertain, his track record suggests that he’s a coach who can adapt, inspire, and reinvigorate a team. His potential partnership with Joe Schmidt could bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to Australian rugby.
The Wallabies need a leader who can turn adversity into motivation and setbacks into comebacks. Foster might just be the man for a job.
Luke Kirkness is an Online Sports Editor for the NZ Herald. He previously covered consumer affairs for the Herald and was an assistant news director in the Bay of Plenty. He won Student Journalist of the Year in 2019.