Dave Rennie has insisted that he will stay with Glasgow Warriors until the end of the season, but has done nothing to downplay reports linking him to the vacant position of Australia head coach, acknowledging it was a post that he would “absolutely” be interested in.
The New Zealander, who earlier this year signed a one-year extension to his contract as Glasgow head coach that takes him up until the middle of 2020, remains the out-and-out frontrunner to succeed Michael Cheika as Wallabies coach. The likelihood now is that Scott Johnson, Australia’s director of rugby and a former holder of the same post with the Scottish Rugby Union, will take charge of the national team until such times as Rennie is free to head south.
“Probably the easiest way to clarify this is that I know there’s lots of speculation in the media that I’ve already signed [a contract with Australia] and people have been informed and all this sort of stuff,” Rennie said, speaking on the subject for the first time since Cheika resigned last week and his own name began to be mentioned in reports from the Southern Hemisphere. “That’s not accurate. I haven’t signed, and I will definitely be here till the end of this season, which is the end of June.”
Asked if the Australia job would interest him, the 55-year-old continued: “Yeah, I think we’ve discussed this before, so yeah, absolutely. I guess what I’m implying is there’s lots of talk about this and I’m already committed [to Glasgow], you know. There’s a lot of speculation, as there has been for months.”
That commitment, he added, would remain in place even if the SRU and Rugby Australia agreed a severance deal that would see him leave Glasgow early. “Again, you guys are speculating. I’ll just reiterate: regardless of what happens to me beyond this season, I’m here for the full season. It’s important to me. I’m committed to the Warriors and I won’t leave earlier.”
Questioned about reports that Scotland’s Australian defence coach Matt Taylor would go with him, Rennie laughed and replied in one word: “Speculation.” And, asked if he and/or his agent had had talks with his prospective employers, he added: “All I would say to that is that it’s almost like when we sign players. We don’t discuss anything until there’s an announcement to be made. It’s no different to coaches and me.”
Having been knocked out of the World Cup by England in last weekend’s quarter-finals, Australia do not have another Test until the summer of 2020. Rennie only took up the Warriors post after the start of the 2017-18 season because of contractual commitments with the Chiefs in New Zealand, and would be comfortable beginning his new job with little time to spare, especially as he already knows Johnson.
Meanwhile, the domestic season continues for Glasgow today with a visit to the Dragons, their mid-table rivals in Pro14 Conference A. Rennie has made four changes to his starting line-up from the win over Cardiff Blues a fortnight ago, two in the pack and two in the backs.
Glenn Bryce, who came off the bench in that 17-13 victory, begins at full-back instead of Ruaridh Jackson, while Niko Matawalu replaces Rory Hughes on the left wing. Up front, Oli Kebble is back after injury and takes over from Alex Allan at loosehead prop, while in the back row Adam Ashe, who also missed the Blues game through injury, is in for Bruce Flockhart at blindside.