How the Aussies got their man

Follow the timeline of events which led to Robbie Deans being appointed Wallabies rugby coach.
Deans creates history

June 7: John O'Neill returns as chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and confirms it will consider a foreigner as Wallabies coach for the first time. Says he has "enormous time" for Robbie Deans and is committed to finding the best man for the job.

August 1: O'Neill releases his book It's Only a Game. Reveals he wanted Deans to succeed Eddie Jones in 2004 but the ARU policy banning foreign coaches got in the way. Deans created a culture to be envied at the Crusaders, ONeill wrote.

September 1: The Wallabies coaching position, to be vacated by John Connolly after the World Cup, is formally advertised. Reports say the ARUs shortlist is Deans, Ewen McKenzie, Scott Johnson, John Muggleton, Laurie Fisher and David Nucifora, with Deans a pronounced favourite.

October 6: Wallabies and All Blacks are bundled out in the World Cup quarterfinals within hours of each other, by England and France.

Oct 17: Deans, O'Neill and ARU high performance manager Pat Howard meet in Paris for a chat over coffee.

Oct 31: Deans breaks his silence, announcing his intention to apply for the All Blacks job, and says he won't be entering the Wallabies race. Nucifora becomes favourite to succeed Connolly.

November 2: Former successful Wallabies coach of the 1980s, Alan Jones, announces his surprise application with the backing of Queensland Rugby Union chairman Peter Lewis.

Nov 9: An ARU panel of former Wallabies Howard, Brett Robinson, Rod McCall, Michael Hawker and Mark Connors interview the final five candidates: Jones, McKenzie (Waratahs), Muggleton (Wallabies assistant), Fisher (Brumbies) and Nucifora (Blues).

November 23: O'Neill goes on leave after undergoing neck surgery, delaying the ARU board discussion on the issue until mid-December.

Nov 27: NZRU announces four shortlisted candidates for All Blacks coach: Graham Henry, who was forced to re-apply, Deans, Colin Cooper and Ian Foster.

December 6: NZRU panel interviews the four candidates amid rumblings of ever-increasing board support for Henry.

Dec 7: Henry is re-appointed. Australian bookmakers shorten Deans to $1.50 favourite to become Wallabies coach. ARU deputy chief executive Matt Carroll tells Deans to call us. McKenzie says Deans' appointment would bring into question the whole ARU coaching system and wonders whether his application was a waste of time.

Dec 8: Deans formally applies after a telephone call from Howard. Reports say his salary will be around $A1 million. Former test lock Peter FitzSimons says a New Zealander coaching the Wallabies would be a black day for rugby.

Dec 9: Senior Wallaby Chris Latham backs Deans as the best candidate.

Dec 11: Deans travels to Brisbane to be interviewed by the same five-man ARU panel. Wallabies great John Eales adds his backing to Deans' application.

Dec 14: ARU confirms Deans as the first foreign coach of the Wallabies.


Born: September 4, 1959     

Place of birth: Cheviot, New Zealand

Robbie Deans is Super rugby's most successful coach, taking the Crusaders to the final six times in the past eight seasons including title wins in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006. Finishing the 2007 campaign having presided over 76 winning performances from 115 Super rugby matches, Deans is the only coach in Super rugby to have been in charge of a side for in excess of 100 games.

As a player, he still holds the record for the most points in the Canterbury provincial jersey (147 games, 1641 points). He also played five Tests for New Zealand between 1983 and 1985.

As a coach, Deans started with the Canterbury Country representative side between 1992 and 1995, before taking over the Canterbury side in 1997 when it won the NPC for the first time in 14 years. He later won the Ranfurly Shield with Canterbury in 2000 before surrendering that role to concentrate entirely on the Crusaders.

Crusaders manager between 1997 and 1999, he was associated with two title-winning seasons for the Christchurch based team (1998 & 1999).

Deans was an All Blacks Assistant Coach between 2001 and 2003. During that period, New Zealand won 22, drew one and lost four of the Tests that it played, while winning the Tri-Nations twice and recovering the Bledisloe Cup after a five year absence.



Position: Fullback

Provincial team: Canterbury

Provincial Caps: 146

Provincial Points: 1641 (Canterbury record)

Test Caps: 5

Test points: 50 (4c, 14p)

Test Debut: v Scotland at Edinburgh (12 November 1983)

Test Cap Number: 841


2000-present: Crusaders Head Coach
2001-2003:        All Blacks Assistant Coach

1997-2000:        Canterbury



National Provincial Championship: 1997

Ranfurly Shield: 2000


Super Rugby Titles: 2000, 2002*, 2005, 2006

Super Rugby Runners up: 2003, 2004

Win/Loss Ratio: 76/115

* Won all 13 competition matches

All Blacks

Bledisloe Cup: 2003

Tri Nations: 2002, 2003

Win/Loss Ratio: 22/4 (1 draw)


New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year Award: 2002

- NZPA and RugbyHeaven