Beginning of the end for Deans?
Robbie Deans has a contract as Wallabies coach until the end of the year, but few expect him to keep the job beyond that.
Robbie Deans has a contract as Wallabies coach until the end of the year, but few people are giving him a chance of keeping the job beyond that.
The Kiwi coach was left under fire from all quarters and fighting too keep his post after his side slumped to a disappointing 41-16 defeat in the deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions in Sydney.
The Wallabies' first foreign coach, in charge of a record 74-Tests since 2008, is contracted until the end of this year but Saturday's defeat is cranking up pressure on the New Zealander.
In a game described as a "horror show" by the Australian press, the Wallabies knocked on from the kickoff with disintegrating scrums and soft defence in the final 20 minutes of the Lions' thumping win.
It was the most points the Lions have ever scored in a Test win in Australia, eclipsing their 31-0 victory in Brisbane in 1966.
There was speculation even before the third Test that Deans' tenure was coming to an end, amid reports that Ewen McKenzie and former South African World Cup-winning coach Jake White had been sounded out about their availability for the coaching job.
Former players have led the criticism of Deans with former Wallaby wing David Campese tweeting on Sunday: "Deans must go now and (Ewen) McKenzie given the top job. Hope we have learnt that we need a AUS coach."
Another former Wallaby, Lote Tuqiri, said on social media: "See ya Robbie!!!"
Australia's media also hit out at Deans' role in the heavy defeat.
"The Robbie Deans era came to a catastrophic end last night," wrote Jim Tucker in The Sunday Telegraph.
"Deans has had his shot. It is time to exit. Last night was a catastrophe of scrum penalties, poor kicks, the sloppy knock-on from the kick-off, errors and the selection blooper that dooms Deans.
"He decided to play the might of the Lions without a specialist five-eighth (fly-half)."
Former Wallaby Brendan Cannon wrote in the same newspaper: "Player harmony is the biggest issue within the Wallabies and must be addressed."
Deans was confronted with questions at the team's post-match press conference about his chances of survival and he stonewalled them. "You don't presume anything in this industry," Deans said. "Those decisions are made by others."
Asked whether he stood by Deans as coach, Wallabies captain James Horwill answered with an abrupt "Yep!"
Pressed to elaborate, Horwill added testily: "Robbie is the coach. He's contracted to the end of the year. He's a great coach. We'll review all that. Now, five minutes after I've just played a Test match is not the time to talk about coaching positions."
Australia's next Test match is against the world champion All Blacks in Sydney on August 17. It's their opening match of the Rugby Championship, including South Africa and Argentina, less than two years before the 2015 World Cup in England and Wales.
Deans has had a chequered history of success during his time with the Wallabies with a 58 percent success rate - winning 43 Tests and losing 29.
The team's failure to win what was deemed their most important match since the 2003 World Cup final against England means Deans still lacks a defining moment as Wallaby coach. His high point remains the 2011 Tri Nations triumph in the weeks before the World Cup in New Zealand.
He is better remembered for being in charge of shattering defeats to Scotland (twice), Samoa at home, a 53-8 rout by South Africa in Johannesburg and an ill-fated World Cup campaign in New Zealand two years ago when the Wallabies never recovered from a 15-6 mugging by Ireland in the group stage.
Also dogging Deans' tenure was the fallibility of the Wallaby scrum, which was again bossed by the Lions in the deciding Test and led to the sin-binning of prop Ben Alexander for repeated scrum infringements in the first half as he was overpowered by England scrummager Alex Corbisiero.
When asked why he continued to put himself through the pressure of being coach ahead of the deciding match, Deans said: ''That (the pressure) is why we do it. That's why I do it. We can't play any more, which is a great shame. It's a great game. It's a great privilege.''