Radio host Alan Jones to coach Barbarians against the Wallabies
Sydney radio talkback host Alan Jones is set to make a shock return to rugby coaching, taking charge of a Barbarians team that will play the Wallabies in October.
Jones, who coached the Wallabies to grand slam glory in 1984, as well as an historic Bledisloe Cup win at Eden Park in 1986, announced on social media on Saturday he would be "accepting an exciting new challenge" in the world of rugby.
The match will take place on October 28 at Allianz Stadium.
NSW will host two Barbarians rugby matches in October this year as a result of lobbying from the state government.
While the location of the second match has not yet been confirmed, the clash in Sydney will garner plenty of interest from rugby fans.
Jones completed coaching duties with the Wallabies in 1987 and since then has kept a close eye on the game in Australia.
The long-time radio broadcaster put his hat in the ring to coach the Wallabies again in 2007, however Robbie Deans ultimately filled the position.
The thought of Jones going head-to-head with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika already has those in the rugby fraternity excited ahead of what should be a high-quality affair.
Jones has been a vocal critic of the ARU in recent times and expressed his views in a candid interview with Fairfax Media earlier this year.
"Australian rugby is in an awful mess and everyone has heard me say a million times they don't know how to get out of it," Jones said. "If you don't make the turnstiles turn, you don't make money."
The match will take place in October on the weekend after the third and final Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand.
From there, the Wallabies will fly to Tokyo to take on Japan before travelling north to Europe for matches against Wales, England and Scotland to round out the international season.
The NSW government says the two-match series in Australia will attract more than 15,000 overnight visitors to the state and bring in more than $8.2 million to the local visitor economy.
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver has thrown his support behind the concept.
"The Wallabies and Barbarians have a history dating back to our first ever clash in 1948 and have often delivered some incredibly entertaining, high-scoring encounters," Pulver said. "We are looking forward to taking on the Barbarians ... before the Wallabies depart for their historic clash with Japan.
"I'm sure fans will embrace the opportunity to watch the first Barbarians clash in Sydney since they last visited us here in 2009."
NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the government was thrilled to be able to organise the matches.
"The NSW government has worked hard to secure these high-profile rugby matches, knowing it will be a significant boost for the state's visitor economy," Marshall said. "The Barbarians is a world-famous rugby club which only plays a few matches every year, so I'm delighted NSW will have the honour of hosting two of these prestigious matches."
Barbarians president Micky Steele-Bodger said: "The last time we played the Wallabies it was a superb encounter and we will be scouring the globe for the best available talent for our matches in Australia this year. We will invite players who uphold our values on and off the field and look forward to being involved in two exciting and entertaining matches."
- Sydney Morning Herald