RA reveals $2.6m unapproved over-spend on World Cup

Darren Walton
AAP
3 Min Read
$2.6 million was over spent without approval during the disastrous Eddie Jones-led World Cup campaign.
$2.6 million was over spent without approval during the disastrous Eddie Jones-led World Cup campaign. Credit: Julian Finney - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Rugby Australia boss Phil Waugh has revealed $2.6 million in unapproved expenses were invested in Eddie Jones’ disastrous 2023 World Cup campaign.

While declining to single out Jones for blame, Waugh on Thursday said the over-spend was “unacceptable” and would not happen again.

“The over-investment that was unapproved was $2.6 million, which covered three main elements, being team costs, staff travel and then player benefits,” Waugh said, adding that RA only found out the extent of the excess spending “retrospectively”.

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“So a lot of that came through post-World Cup ... You want to set the team up for success.

“I mean, the reality is that 86 per cent of our revenue comes through the men’s fifteens program for Rugby Australia, and a successful World Cup program is critical to that.

“And I guess, yeah, there was lenience given in the hope that we would succeed at the World Cup and make it deep into the tournament.

“Clearly that didn’t happen, but the circumstances were quite unique.’‘

Phil Waugh
Phil Waugh says the $2.6 million World Cup over-spend was "unacceptable" and will not happen again. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Asked how the over-spend could reach such a vast sum, Waugh said: “Delegation of authority is important and clearly there were breaches in that area and we’ve made personnel changes on the back of some of those breaches.

“That over-investment, that’s not acceptable and it won’t happen going forward.”

Waugh also refused to single out the Wallabies’ World Cup manager Chris Webb for blame.

“I’m not going to point the finger at one individual,” he said.

“I think it was a cultural deficiency that we need to rectify.”

The revelation came as Waugh also reported broken trust as being among the strongest feedback coming from players who participated in RA’s external review into the Wallabies’ year from hell under Jones.

After quitting just 10 months into his five-year deal, Jones has since signed on as Japan’s national coach, despite denying he was interviewed for the Brave Blossoms position before presiding over the Wallabies’ worst-ever World Cup campaign.

“The lack of trust certainly comes through and we talk through elements of culture as well as governance there,” Waugh said.

“The actual specifics of Eddie and the linkages to Japan, not so much.

“But I think that’s the broader lack of trust across the system.”

SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 01: Andrew Kellaway of Australia speaks with Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia, during the warm up prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Portugal at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on October 01, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Eddie Jones left the Wallabies in complete disarray to coach Japan. Credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Among the reviews 23 recommendations were more transparency around player selections and greater alignment between Australia’s five Super Rugby franchises for the greater good of the Wallabies.

The omission of long-time former captain Michael Hooper and fellow senior statesman Quade Cooper were the two biggest controversies arising from Jones’s naming of his greenhorn 33-man World Cup squad last year.

The review was conducted by former internationals Andrew Slack and Justin Harrison, industry expert Darlene Harrison and Pasifika adviser Moana Leilua.

Tellingly, establishing “more clearly defined roles and responsibilities for coaching staff” and refining “the team selection process to be more transparent for players” were also suggested.

Jones repeatedly refused to explain Cooper’s non-selection, which left Australia without an experienced playmaker during their doomed campaign in France, before finally revealing after the tournament he believed the Wallabies needed to move in another direction to progress.

The Wallabies failed to progress out of the group stages of a World Cup for the first time in history after losing to Fiji also for the first time since 1954 and suffering their biggest ever defeat at the tournament, 40-6 against Wales.

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