After nearly 3 weeks of headlines regarding his outburst after the Australian World Cup loss, Stuart has reluctantly walked away from his post.
His decision to leave came through a media statement today.
It was an impossible position for both the ARL and Ricky Stuart after his unusual outburst at referee Ashley Klein and match officials director Stuart Cummings 24 hours after the loss, in a hotel foyer in Brisbane. It was poor form to initially blow up about the loss, but to carry on 24 hours later was the straw that broke Stuarts back essentially.
It’s a shame not only for Ricky Stuart but for the Kangaroos to also lose a highly talented coach. While Stuart made an emotional error after the loss, an error which Stuart eluded to and apologised for in his newspaper column – this doesn’t suggest he is a bad coach. However, his decision to walk was the right one and his tough call should now ensure the matter is forever put to bed.
Stuart was also slapped with a $20,000 fine by World Cup officials for his outburst.
It’s believed when the Australian Rugby League board met on Tuesday after they considered the matter, they urged Stuart to fall on his sword and quit the post – saving them the uncomfortable role of dismissing the popular and talented Australian coach.
Stuart, wasn’t answering questions on the matter but said it was obviously a tough call to make.
“This has been the most difficult decision to make in view of the great honour and enjoyment that comes from coaching our national team,” Stuart said.
“I believe that making this decision is in the best interests of the game and for me personally.
“In view of the circumstances it was the only decision.
“The penalty that has been handed down has been accepted by me as fair and reasonable.
“There are some elements of the fine that I could debate but in the best interests of the game it is time to move on and leave them unchallenged.
Stuart said he has apologised to everyone involved in the incident.
It’s a sad end to Stuarts chapter as Australian Kangaroos coach. His ability to steel the players and bring together the group, is a very rare skill in Rugby League coaching circles. Probably only Phil Gould has the ability to do what Stuart does with his team bonding success and the ‘us vs them’ mentality. While Stuart and Gould aren’t on speaking terms anymore – Stuart does owe a lot to his former Bondi coaching mentor Gould.
Stuart and his Cronulla Sharks may be the only winners in this decision today, the coach now free to focus soley on getting the Sharks over the line for the NRL top honour after a highly successful 2008 season.
While the Australians did lose the World Cup, it was hardly a walk over result and that remains the only game the side lost. It was always a tough gig for Stuart. If the Roo’s lifted the World Cup – critics would say “It was an easy job, anyone could do it.” But on the flipside, lose the thing – and everyone is calling for the axe.