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Four months after being sacked by Rugby Australia, Dave Rennie’s next move has been made official.
While departing Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos has reportedly been linked to the vacant top job at Wales.
More than four months after The Roar reported Rennie would join Kobe, the ex-Wallabies coach’s move to the Japanese League One competition was confirmed on Friday.
“I am delighted to announce I will be joining Kobe Steelers as Director of Rugby for the next season,” Rennie said in a statement.
“I have always wanted to coach in Japan, having coached in NZ, Europe and Internationally with the Wallabies.
“Kobe is a great place to live and a great club, whom I’ve had a strong relationship with since my time at the Chiefs and I’m rapt to reconnect with them.
“While they’ve had a tough year in 2023, we are aspirational and have good people who are prepared to work hard
“While Steph [Rennie’s wife] and I will spend the majority of the next three months traveling, I have already started thinking about the 2024 season and beyond with Kobe and the exciting challenge that lies ahead.”
Rennie, the two-time Super Rugby-winning coach with the Chiefs, was brutally sacked on January 15 as Rugby Australia pounced on a free and in-demand Eddie Jones.
But even before he was let go, Rennie had been busy planning ahead knowing that a change in the wind had put his future as Wallabies coach in doubt.
Rennie had pushed for a contract extension with the Wallabies in mid-2022, a heartbreaking 2-1 series loss, but a record loss to end their two-week tour of Argentina and a deflating loss in Sydney to the Springboks changed the feeling around Rennie’s future.
While the Wallabies showed what they were capable of doing under Rennie against Ireland and France on the end-of-season Spring Tour, a historic first loss to Italy left the New Zealander’s position on shaky ground over the festive period.
Wanting a proven coach at the World Cup to ensure the Wallabies make a splash in Australia, RA chairman Hamish McLennan tore up the current plans and turned his attention directly to bringing on Jones immediately.
Six weeks after being sacked by the Rugby Football Union, Jones agreed to terms with RA and less than 48 hours Rennie was sacked.
His axing divided opinion given his rapport with the playing group and his dry, humble nature after a toxic state Rugby Australia found itself in before the onset of COVID-19 saw the governing body forced to look at itself in the mirror.
Ultimately, RA acted on Rennie’s winning percentage, which was an unflattering 38 per cent.
《2023-24シーズンの #新加入スタッフ のお知らせ????》https://t.co/D0QVBZzqa0
— コベルコ神戸スティーラーズ (@kobe_steelers) May 26, 2023
Rennie will be joined at Kobe by Chiefs star Brodie Retallick.
Their arrives continue a long history of New Zealand involvement at Kobe, with master coach Wayne Smith and All Blacks great Dan Carter spending time at the club.
Meanwhile, Marinos, the former Wales international who resigned under pressure on May 1, has reportedly been shortlisted for the vacant chief executive role at the Welsh Rugby Union.
Marinos has been shortlisted alongside Dragons boss David Buttress, football chief Steve Dalton OBE and Nigel Walker, the former Test winger who has held the role since Steve Phillips resigned five months ago amid allegations of misogyny and sexism within the governing body, according to Wales Online.
Financially prudent and vastly experienced in sports administration, Marinos helped RA post a $8.2 million surplus in 2022 just two years after posting a $27.1m deficit.
While Marinos had indicated to The Roar he would continue to live in Sydney’s south, it’s understood his first true rugby love is Wales.