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Waratahs boss tackles the tough questions

Date

The coach quit, the team manager has left, and the chairman has resigned. Greg Growden asks Waratahs chief executive Jason Allen the hard questions.

In the firing line ... Tahs' Chief Executive, Jason Allen.

In the firing line ... Tahs' Chief Executive, Jason Allen. Photo: Steve Christo

Greg Growden: Was [Waratahs team manager] Chris Webb sacked by you?

Jason Allen: I can't comment on that.

GG: Why not?

JA: Because that is a private matter. Chris Webb is finished with our employment.

GG: There have been allegations of a salary cap concern, which a number of other provinces have denied being involved in. This involves a province being involved via an invoice system where they have been able to pay players through their club. Are the Waratahs in a salary cap breach? Are they involved in this?

JA: I can assure you that the matter has been raised with the ARU, and the ARU are investigating it. And they've requested that they comment on it.

GG: So you can't comment on that situation?

JA: No, I cannot comment on that situation.

GG: So you cannot confirm or deny that your province is involved?

JA: I cannot comment on that situation.

GG: So do I have to go to the Australian Rugby Union for comment?

JA: Please.

GG: Michael Foley. When are you hoping to announce his replacement?

JA: We've started the process with the board. We've been able to get a link-up now with board members, because a lot of them are currently travelling. The rugby subcommittee met yesterday. So we've already started a process of looking at a shortlist of candidates.

GG: When are you hoping to announce a coach?

JA: We're hoping to do that quickly. We haven't got a timescale on it, because it really depends on the timing of talking to all the people at the moment.

GG: Your captain Benn Robinson has said that he hopes there is player input in this appointment. Will there be player input? Will they be part of the decision-making?

JA: Absolutely. I'm hoping to catch up with ''Robbo'' this week, when he gets a gap in his training. I've already spoken to the team and Al Baxter, who is their player representative on the board. So we're getting to the bottom of how they'd like to be engaged.

GG: Have you already talked to coaching candidates?

JA: We've already had a chat to a potential coach, and some candidates have spoken to me over the last 12 months. Quite a few of them have kept in touch.

GG: Is there interest in Michael Cheika?

JA: Michael Cheika is absolutely of interest to our organisation.

GG: [Waratahs backs coach] Alan Gaffney is a possible candidate. Is there any truth to the suggestion that a number of months ago pressure was applied on Michael Foley, and maybe Chris Webb, to have Gaffney sacked?

JA: There was pressure on the footy department to make some savings, that they agreed to at the beginning of the year. How that looked, and what that entailed, wasn't finalised at all. So that could have been a combination of many areas. That could have been what we were doing as far as travel costs, some of our

committed costs, trial matches. It could have been a head count reduction. There wasn't any names that were asked or requested at that time. They were looking at a structural change, and Michael Foley came out publicly recently and said they were considering a structural change anyway going into the future. We were hoping to get to a final result with Michael Foley, but that's all changed now.

GG: So at that time, were you asking coaches to look at the cost structure, and where it could be cut back?

JA: The whole football budget.

GG: Are we talking around the time of the Waratahs' South African trip?

JA: No, it happened three months prior to that. We had a review halfway through the season on the whole business. So we changed some head count within the administration as well. We had to remove a head count there, and the footy department were volunteering some savings there as well. We needed to streamline our costs.

GG: Did anything actually occur?

JA: We had some decreased travel commitments, so we were able to start taking some overheads out of the business. The footy department did a terrific job actually.

GG: But was there any pressure applied to get rid of one of the Waratahs staff members?

JA: They were actually given a budget to take out of the structure of our business. How that looked was up to the footy department to present to us. That was a presentation done through the recent review, and Michael Foley presented a damn good case for the footy department going forward, with some savings in there, which from the administration perspective, I was backing and supporting him on that.

GG: What was the logic behind having a season review when the Waratahs still had to play two of their biggest matches, against the Brumbies and Reds?

JA: That's a comment for the board [to make].

GG: But aren't you a member of the board?

JA: No I am not.

GG: But you still would have been in the process of that decision?

JA: I was able to sit through the process. Absolutely.

GG: Were you at that meeting?

JA: Absolutely. I was invited to it.

GG: How did Michael Foley handle that meeting?

JA: Extremely well.

GG: Are you surprised he has left the Waratahs?

JA: I'm very disappointed he has left.

GG: Can you understand why he has left?

JA: From what he's told me, yes.

GG: What about a new Waratahs chairman [to replace Ed Zemancheff, who has resigned]? What is happening there?

JA: We have an interim chairman, Al Baxter, for at least the next month. We have a board meeting later in the month. So the board will get together, and they will decide on the next stage in the process. They all want to be in the same room, because at the moment they are travelling. We have directors overseas, on holidays and work trips.

GG: What are your thoughts on a season which ended up with the embarrassing situation of eight losses in a row?

JA: It is really disappointing. We had a really good opportunity off the field because we had some afternoon games, and we got some great support from the ARU, SANZAR and the broadcaster. They were successful days, and the games were pretty good. The one thing I can say is I'm pleased with how the blokes and the staff have handled it. They've already started their pre-season plan. The guys are well and truly in place for next season.

GG: How is the Waratahs' financial situation?

JA: It's been a tough year. We're looking at a small loss this year. We've still got a lot of actual activity in the market. We do a lot of ''train with the team'' activities, and they're pretty big revenue contributors at this time of the year. Our current forecast would be a very small loss. However, we will still be paying our licence fee to the NSWRU, which is really important because our job, at the end of the day, is to fund the community game in NSW. They will not miss out on their funding.

GG: Were you concerned NSWRU chairman Nick Farr-Jones had commented that he believed the Waratahs had lost touch with the community game, even to the extent that they were considering revoking that licence?

JA: I haven't spoken to Nick about any of that. So I'm only commenting on what I have read. Nick has spoken to me before about the community game and our activities in the field. And he's damn well right. No one dodges that in our place. That's why last year we formed a committee inside the business, with ARU and NSW representatives, with my staff, and we've started a program. It's not a jazzy name with no activity. It's called Community Connection, and we've increased our visits into the market this year by 250. That's not chicken feed. It's 750 activities in the community in this state. To be fair on our guys, you couldn't ask for more than that, because we've only got half the squad for half the year. So you've got very few doing a lot. Could we do it better? Absolutely. No doubt. And we will do it better. I would like to see our players get into the junior clubs and schools, and that will happen.

GG: With the province expected to run at a slight loss, that could put you in a compromising position because the Waratahs coaching job is the plum job in Australian rugby. Will that affect your ability to get the best candidate, because to get the best candidate you will probably have to pay big money to get him?

JA: We wouldn't compromise that opportunity. However, we do have tight financial restraints on the business. If that means we need to make other changes, and have a chat to some of our stakeholders such as the NSWRU and the ARU, we will. There's a call in at the ARU at the moment. They have offered their full support to help us through this process, which has been terrific.

Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29vs LIO 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19vs STO 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29vs SHA 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED 0vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28vs BRU 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31vs CRU 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43vs RED 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17vs RED 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19vs HUR 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35vs LIO 33 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25vs BRU 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46vs REB 29 Report Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33vs SHA 18 Report Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 20vs BRU 30 Report Stats
CHT 24vs HIG 45 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 34vs BUL 20 Report Stats
RED 14vs SHA 21 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 5vs HUR 29 Report Stats
WAR 32vs CRU 22 Report Stats
FOR 3vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 17vs LIO 40 Report Stats
STO 31vs REB 15 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35vs HUR 18 Report Stats
BRU 22vs BUL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 25vs REB 21 Report Stats
HIG 36vs CHF 9 Report Stats
FOR 10vs RED 32 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 42vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27vs WAR 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 56vs HIG 20 Report Stats
FOR 20vs BRU 33 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB 21vs BUL 20 Report Stats
BLU 11vs CRU 34 Report Stats
RED 3vs CHF 24 Report Stats
CHT 33vs WAR 58 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19vs LIO 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU 7vs HIG 44 Report Stats
REB 11vs FOR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU 24vs CRU 37 Report Stats
CHF 13vs HUR 21 Report Stats
WAR 31vs RED 5 Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 29vs CHT 42 Report Stats
SHA 34vs STO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Qualifying Finals
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
HIG 24vs CHF 14 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19vs BRU 39 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Semi Finals
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 29vs BRU 9 Stats
WAR 17vs HIG 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Grand Final
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
HUR 14vs HIG 21 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 2 0 170 66
Waratahs 16 11 5 0 96 52
Stormers 16 10 5 1 50 45
Highlanders 16 11 5 0 117 53
Brumbies 16 9 7 0 108 47
Lions 16 9 6 1 -22 42
Chiefs 16 10 6 0 73 48
Bulls 16 7 9 0 9 38
View all
 

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