Ewen McKenzie helping rebuild Christchurch in life after Wallabies

There have been a few sightings around Sydney and the southern highlands, including a rumoured beard, but until now there has been no definitive word on what life after the Wallabies looks like for former coach Ewen McKenzie.

The Breakdown can reveal that, far from bunking down after a bitterly disappointing end to his time in charge at the top, McKenzie is embracing the next chapter and has returned to his town planning roots.

McKenzie has linked up with long-time supporter and benefactor Kevin Maloney, who has made his fortune from the mining and construction industry and whose company Tulla Group recently won contracts to help in the reconstruction effort in Christchurch.

Maloney has employed McKenzie in a full-time capacity as project manager on a bunch of interests, including the construction of a 166-room workers’ accommodation facility in the New Zealand city.

The work is keeping him very busy and involves frequent trips across the ditch. Maloney told The Breakdown McKenzie was already a popular figure in the rugby-mad community and was relishing life after rugby.

“He even has a smile on his face these days,” Maloney said. “He will be telling his side of the story at some stage but he’s working hard at the moment and has moved on.”


Important details have emerged since news broke this week that former Wallabies staffer Di Patston is suing the Australian Rugby Union over her departure.

Fairfax Media and other outlets reported that the ARU failed in its application to have Patston’s claim dismissed, but that is not correct.

Instead, the application will be heard on June 2 by Judge Vasta in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane. According to court documents, the ARU is challenging the legality of Patston’s claim based on the fact the two parties signed a financial settlement when Patston resigned in October.

The basic principle, as the ARU hopes the court will see it? Patston cannot come back to the well twice after agreeing to a financial settlement the first time. They are citing two sections of the Federal Circuit Court Act to this end.

Whether Patston’s state of mind at the time of her resignation will come into it remains to be seen. The former team business manager had flown home from Argentina in distress and resigned 10 days later while on stress leave.

This could get very ugly for the ARU.


Literally every major power broker in Australian rugby turned out for the Waratahs’ season launch at Sydney’s Ivy this week. We’re talking ARU boss Bill Pulver, SANZAR chief Greg Peters, RUPA head honcho Greg Harris, chairman Bruce Hodgkinson, an array of NSW and Waratahs directors, and a host of other identities, including reclusive but influential identity Jon Collins and the president of French club Narbonne, Anthony Hill.

Everyone except the Waratahs chief executive, that is, who was conspicuously absent from the shindig on Wednesday.

But the plot thickens. Jason Allen actually hasn’t been in the office for weeks after emailing staff to let them know he is “working from home” until his role winds up next month.

Allen, who has steered the franchise through some shaky financial times during the past four years, has been in caretaker mode since the end of last year, when the franchise’s lucrative management deal with the operators of ANZ Stadium fell through and NSW Rugby stepped in to negotiate a new hire agreement with rival Allianz Stadium instead.

Waratahs Rugby director and former Wallaby Al Baxter was left to do the preamble with veteran master of ceremonies Greg Clark in what was the first genuinely upbeat season launch The Breakdown has attended. Nothing like a trophy to put the razzle-dazzle back in rugby.


The Waratahs have drawn up a list of potential candidates to take over from Michael Cheika when he joins the Wallabies full-time in just a few months.

Assistant coach Daryl Gibson is at the top of the list, but Wallabies forwards coach Andrew Blades is also a potential target if he departs the Test arena, as expected.

Other names doing the rounds are former London Irish coach Brian Smith, who knows Cheika, and Robbie Deans. The Waratahs also have a number of smaller names who boast big achievements, and have enlisted the help of recruitment analyst Ben Darwin.


It is the long-promised holy land of Australian rugby. A bright and shiny centre of excellence in every sense, designed to give Australia’s elite teams their best chance of flourishing and conquering on the world stage. It was going to be built at Ballymore, it was going to be built at Eastwood, then it sounded as though it was never going to be built.

But the centre of excellence lives on in the minds and plans of the ARU, which is plotting its third coming at Moore Park in Sydney’s east. Sources tell The Breakdown that chairman Michael Hawker is still keen to get in on the action at the precinct housing the Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium.

That would make it the fourth rugby body to call Moore Park home and plans are afoot to move the first ARU personnel from St Leonards into the building housing the Waratahs and NSW Rugby as early as May or June.

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