SYDNEY – Outgoing coach Michael Cheika and the head of Rugby Australia reportedly engaged in an undiplomatic row at the country’s embassy in Tokyo during the Wallabies’ ill-fated Rugby World Cup campaign.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday that Raelene Castle and Cheika clashed in front of dozens of guests during a World Cup function at the Australian embassy.
The newspaper alleges that former Wallaby Morgan Turinui was forced to intervene, with Cheika furious that Castle had gone over his head to ensure players attended the Sept. 25 function just days out from a crunch group match against Wales.
Cheika quit as coach on Sunday after the Wallabies were defeated by England 40-16 in the World Cup quarterfinals.
The 52-year-old later said he had “no relationship” with CEO Castle and “not much” of a connection with chairman Cameron Clyne.
Citing unnamed sources, the Sydney Morning Herald claims the entire squad was initially requested to attend the embassy event but Cheika had resisted.
Things escalated at the end of the event with Cheika “unloading” on Castle, the newspaper reported, when the CEO went to thank him for bringing four of the players.
Cheika penned an open letter to fans Wednesday.
“I want to personally thank you all and also say that I am truly sorry we could not go one better in this World Cup than we did in 2015,” when the Wallabies lost in the final, he wrote on online hub Athletes Voice.
“As the head coach of the Wallabies I want you to know that I feel that weight of carrying all of your hopes and I love the responsibility that comes with it,” he added.