In the movie Bridesmaid there’s one great scene (aside from the infamous food poisoning scene) that I love. It’s where the main character goes back to her mum’s house after trashing her best friend’s bridal shower and announces she’s hit rock bottom. After yesterday’s announcement by Michael Foley that he was leaving Sydney to take up a three year deal with the Force the Waratahs have also hit rock bottom.
The descent to these dark depths has been a long time coming. The disappointment of not having won a Super rugby title cannot be over emphasised. Having had one of the strongest squads in recent years, particularly under Ewen McKenzie and Chris Hickey, NSW expected to take home the trophy on numerous occasions but always just missed out. Not only did this create a sense of entitlement within the squad but it also created anxiety and frustration amongst the fans and administration. This frustration resulted in constant personnel changes, designed to help the Tahs finally claim that elusive trophy.
After several changes last year, most notably appointing Michael Foley as coach, many assumed this would be year the Tahs would turn it around. Unfortunately their collapse only accelerated. Winning only four games and losing their last eight made the season one everyone wanted to forget. Rumours of infighting and contracts not being renewed created a toxic environment. An environment that eventually resulted in the worst losing record in the club’s Super rugby history and the resignation of the Waratah’s manager, chairman and, as of yesterday morning, the coach.
What made yesterday’s announcement the final nail in the coffin was that only a couple of months ago Foley was dragged before the Board to explain the disastrous campaign. Instead of forcing Foley out the Waratahs begged him to stay only for him to leave for the Force. When the coach that took you to your worst losing record walks out, despite your willingness for him to stay, you know you’re at a low point.
If there’s any silver lining to this year it’s the fact the Waratahs have hit rock bottom. Now, the only way they can go is up. With wholesale changes success can come for this once proud club and there are plenty of examples of this, even within Australia. The Reds and Brumbies have scoured these depths to then come back and make their fans proud. With the wholesale changes that now have to happen at the Waratahs, the boys in blue may look back on the 2013 season as one of their best. But for now, the rebuilding starts.
:: Ewen Hollingsworth
- Foley looks west after leaving Waratahs (news.smh.com.au)
- Foley confirms Super exit from Waratahs (news.theage.com.au)