Former England assistant under Jones quits as Wallabies attack coach eight months before the World Cup
Scott Wisemantel resigns as Australia assistant amid Eddie Jones rumours
Australia assistant coach Scott Wisemantel has resigned from his post with immediate effect just eight months before the World Cup amid speculation Eddie Jones could join the Wallaby camp.
Wisemantel joined Dave Rennie’s backroom staff as attack coach ahead of the 2020 season having previously fulfilled the same role for England under Jones, reaching the World Cup final in 2019.
However, the 52-year-old has stepped aside to spend more time with his family and focus on other business interests outside of rugby after an underwhelming year which yielded just five wins from 14 matches for the Wallabies.
“While this has been a very difficult decision, it’s one that’s best for me and my family at this point in time,” Wisemantel said.
“The World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport and requires 100% commitment and that’s something I’m unfortunately unable to give at the moment.
“I’ve loved being with this team under Dave and wish them all the best for their season and in the World Cup later this year.”
Jones has been linked with a return to the country of his birth in a potential director of rugby role, having coached Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, following his sacking by the RFU as England head coach last month.
If the 62-year-old joins the Wallabies in some capacity ahead of the World Cup in France that starts in September, he could be in line to coach against his old side in the quarter-finals in a repeat of the fixture England won 40-16 in Japan in 2019.
Wisemantel’s decision to step down ends a run of coaching at four consecutive World Cups with Australia, Samoa, Japan and England.
Rennie, whose position has come under increasing pressure after a 2022 campaign that included a first ever defeat to Italy, praised his outgoing assistant’s impact while heralding him as a “top man”.
“Scott’s a top man and one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with,” Rennie added. “He’s hugely respected around the world, has a mountain of experience at International level and an incredible rapport with our players.
“While we did all we could to try and keep Scott, we respect his decision and wish him, Gabs and the girls all the best. He’s been a massive part of this group for the past three years and we’ll miss him.”
Where next for highly-rated attack coach Scott Wisemantel?
If you take Scott Wisemantel’s reasons for stepping down from his role with Australia at face value then it appears unlikely the experienced operator will resurface at another international side.
However, it would not be the first time things have changed quickly at the top end of the game and with England and Wales both welcoming new head coaches, there are some attractive opportunities out there.
But, at the moment, it seems more likely that the club game beckons and there are several willing suitors who will now almost definitely be getting in contact.
After the RFU raided Leicester Tigers for Steve Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield, perhaps the East Midlands could be Wisemantel’s next destination with Richard Wigglesworth in place as interim head coach and the reigning Premiership champions keen to seal a permanent appointment for next season. A new person in charge would want to refresh the coaching staff and Wisemantel could prove to be a safe pair of hands.
Elsewhere, with Stuart Lancaster moving to Racing 92 from Leinster for next season, the URC side could look to bring in Wisemantel to replace one experienced operator with another. Assuming Wisemantel keeps his hand in with the sport, he is unlikely to be short of offers.
Will Eddie Jones join Australia?
Whether you agreed with the RFU’s decision to remove Eddie Jones from his post as England coach or not, he still remains a vastly experienced coach with a tremendous record – particularly at the World Cup.
With Australia having suffered a miserable 2022 on the field, Jones could be the perfect tonic to Dave Rennie’s problems. Although it is unlikely Jones would come in as a direct replacement for Wisemantel, their shared past with Japan and England would help ensure there was some continuity for the players ahead of the World Cup.
Jones is no stranger to winning World Cups as a late addition to a side. He only joined South Africa as a consultant in the months preceding the 2007 World Cup but helped Jake White’s side lift the trophy in… France.
Could he do the same again this time around? Australia fans will certainly hope so if he does end up joining the Wallabies and England would not be surprised with CEO Bill Sweeney confirming the RFU expect Jones to return to the international frame sooner rather than later with the terms of his severance package not including a non-compete.
“I’d be amazed if he wasn’t there (at the World Cup),” Sweeney admitted after Borthwick was revealed as Jones’s successor. “Does he go there (Australia) as a consultant, does he go to the US, to Japan, I don’t know.”
Attack coach merry-go-round
It is not a bad time to be an attack coach with a good CV.
Steve Borthwick is said to be weighing up whether England incumbent Martin Gleeson is the right man to lead his attack having inherited the former rugby league player from Eddie Jones’s tenure. Northampton’s Sam Vesty and Harlequins’ former All Black Nick Evans are two other names that have been linked with the job.
Warren Gatland is back in Cardiff and the second coming has already claimed a few victims with Gethin Jenkins and attack coach Stephen Jones removed from their posts. While there is plenty of noise about Paul Gustard taking charge of Wales’ defence, with Rob Howley and Alex King reportedly in the running for the attack gig.
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