Ewen McKenzie

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Ewen McKenzie
Full name Ewen James McKenzie
Date of birth (1965-06-21) 21 June 1965 (age 49)
Place of birth Melbourne, Australia
School Scotch College, Melbourne
University University of New South Wales
Occupation(s) Rugby union Coach
Rugby union career
Current status
Position(s) Head Coach Australia
Playing career
Position Prop
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1996–97 Brumbies
Melbourne Harlequins
Paris Université Club
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1987–95 NSW Waratahs 37
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1990–97 Australia 51 (9)
Coaching career
Years Club / team
Australia (Head Coach)
Queensland Reds
Stade Français
Australia A
NSW Waratahs
Australia (asst. coach)
Brumbies (asst. coach)

Ewen James Andrew McKenzie is a former Australian Rugby union prop and former professional coach of the Australian national team.[1]

He played for the New South Wales Waratahs from 1987-95, then the Brumbies 1996-7.

McKenzie has coached in both hemispheres, coaching Super Rugby franchises Queensland Reds and New South Wales Waratahs, and coached Top 14 side Stade Français in France.

Early life[edit]

Born 21 June 1965 in Melbourne, McKenzie and educated at Scotch College, Melbourne and University of New South Wales.[2]

Playing career[edit]

Ewen McKenzie played prop for the New South Wales Waratahs 37 times between 1987-95, before joining the Brumbies in 1996, for the inaugural Super 12 season. He played 36 times for the Canberra-based team until 1997, playing in the 1997 Super 12 final against the Auckland Blues, who won that match 23–7 at Eden Park.

A product of Scotch College, Melbourne, McKenzie was the second Victorian born and bred player to represent Australia after the great Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop. He represented the Wallabies 51 times, earning his first cap in 21–9 victory over France on 9 June 1990 at the Sydney Football Stadium.[3] He started every match of the 1990 French tour to Australia, winning the test series 2–1. His first major test series was the Bledisloe Cup series in August 1990. The All Blacks won retained the trophy with a 2–1 series win. McKenzie was part of the Australian side that claimed the 1991 Rugby World Cup, with a 12–6 victory over England in the Twickenham finale, where he formed a formidable front row alongside Tony Daly and Phil Kearns.[4]

In 1992, McKenzie won his first Bledisloe Cup series, beating the All Blacks 2–1 with a 19–17 victory at Ballymore, and a 16–15 victory at the Sydney Football Stadium. However a year later, the Wallabies were unable to retain the trophy after a 25–10 loss at Carisbrook. However, McKenzie was part of the team that beat South Africa for just the second time on home soil, during their 1993 tour of Australia. In 1994, the Wallabies won all 6 games they played in that year, with McKenzie starting in all 6 games. He was part of the 1995 Rugby World Cup squad, but was unable to retain their 1991 title following a 25–22 loss to England in the Quarter Finals at Cape Town.

In 1996, McKenzie played just two games of the Wallabies season, which were part of the 1996 Welsh tour of Australia. He missed the inaugural series of the Tri nations, but was reselected in 1997 for the 1997 French tour of Australia. 1997 was the year McKenzie retired from international rugby, making his last appearance on 12 July 1997 after a 25–6 victory over England in Sydney.

In his entire career of 51 test matches, he only ever played as a substitute once, during a pool game in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.[5]

In 1992, McKenzie toured New Zealand with the World XV to mark the centenary of the New Zealand Rugby Union. New Zealand won the series 2–1, with a 54–26 win at Wellington and a 26–15 win at Auckland.[6] The World XV's only win was the opening match, where they secured a 28–14 win.


Coaching career[edit]

Following his retirement from playing in 1997, McKenzie has coached at many different levels. He has coached both in the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere, taking on different roles of coaching. He first began coaching in 1998 with the Brumbies as a Coaching Co-ordinator. His two year stint at the franchise, included a Super 12 final loss to the Crusaders 20–19. He then spent 3 years with the Wallabies as an assistant coach to Rod Macqueen and Eddie Jones. His success as an assistant landed him a role has head coach of the Waratahs, where still to this date his 5 year tenure makes him the longest serving coach of the Sydney-based team. During the 5 year tenure, he briefly coached the Australia A side, before joining French team Stade Français for one season. He returned home in 2009 and took up the role as Director of Rugby for the Queensland Reds. He coached the team until 2013, before stepping down to pursue international opportunities. He was heavily linked with the Head Coach role of Scotland and Ireland, but it was the Wallabies McKenzie wanted to coach.[7][8] However, on 8 July 2013, McKenzie was named head coach of the Wallabies succeeding Robbie Deans. McKenzie formally quit as coach of the Wallabies at 10 am on 18 October 2014, although it was not announced publicly until later that evening after the Wallabies lost a match to the All Blacks by one point.

Assistant coach of Australia[edit]

In 2000, he joined the Wallabies coaching set-up as an assistant coach to Rod Macqueen until 2001, when Macqueen stepped down as head coach, and Eddie Jones took over. During this time, McKenzie and Macqueen led Australia to their first Tri Nations title in 2000. In addition to this, they also helped the national team to their third successive Bledisloe Cup triumph, dating back to 1998. He also helped the Wallabies to a historic 2–1 series win over the British and Irish Lions, before again retaining the Bledisloe Cup though to 2003. During this time, Jones succeeded Macqueen and joined Link to lead the team to their second Tri Nations title in 2001. McKenzie's last duties as assistant coach was during the 2003 Rugby World Cup, where Australia lost the final to England in extra time.

New South Wales Waratahs[edit]

In November 2003, McKenzie succeeded Bob Dwyer as Head Coach of the New South Wales Waratahs. He led the team to the 2005 Super 12 final, lost 35–25 to the Crusaders, in his second year at the helm, and to the semi-final in 2006, lost 16–14 to the Hurricanes, before reaching the final again in 2008, where he lost again to the Crusaders 20–12. Despite not coaching the Waratahs at current, he is the Waratahs longest serving coach in history.

Following a successful 5-year tenure with the NSW Waratahs, McKenzie joined French club Stade Français in 2008, taking the side to the semi-final in the first year in charge - Stade Français lost to Perpignan 25–21 in that semi-final.

Queensland Reds[edit]

On 9 October 2009 it was announced that McKenzie was leaving France to return home to Australia, and that he was taking over the coaching job of the Queensland Reds in the Super 14, succeeding Phil Mooney. He became the club's seventh coach in 11 years.[9]

During his first year as Queensland Reds Director of Rugby, he took the side to 5th in the table, a significant rise from previous positions of the bottom 5 in the table. The 5th place positioning, was the Reds highest position since 2002. That success continued into 2011 when the Reds triumphed to win their first Super Rugby Championship in the professional Rugby era, beating the Crusaders 18–13 at Suncorp. Having devised a brand of Rugby that receives international acclaim, the Reds topped the regular season with 13 victories and just 3 losses. Ewen then guided the Reds to victory over the Blues in the semi-final and Crusaders in the final to score their first title since 1995. It was believed that McKenzie successfully transformed the Reds into the powerhouse Rugby province of Australia, with the team's second straight conference title in 2012 coming only a year after guiding the team to their maiden Super Rugby championship. However, the Reds were unable to retain their title, following a heavy home defeat of 30–17 to the Sharks in the Qualifying finals round.

In his first three years at the helm, Ewen contributed to the Reds winning every major piece of available silverware with the only trophy to elude the team during his opening two campaigns – the Rod Macqueen Cup – making its way to Queensland for the first time in 2012. Two successive victories over the Brumbies were the catalyst behind the Reds 2012 success as they again dominated their Australian rivals by winning seven of their eight matches against national opposition. Among other firsts, the Reds also claimed their maiden win at Eden Park.

Pre Ewen McKenzie, the Reds had had several poor seasons and had not won back to back matches for several seasons but were transformed under McKenzie, playing an entertaining, expansive style of rugby.

By 2012, commentaries on McKenzie's coaching had become a regular part of the Fairfax's Sydney Morning Herald. In February Greg Growden outlined McKenzie's plan to "select a faster, more mobile forward pack" for the Super Rugby season opener against the Waratahs in Sydney.[10]

McKenzie, in his own column in the Sydney Morning Herald, shared his coaching insights. In April, he first he discussed the challenges incorporating a new player into an unfamiliar playing environment.[11] A week later he explained, "The decision [by Queensland Rugby] to recruit Richard Graham from the Western Force was a proactive one made ... to ensure we can sustain ongoing success both with the Reds and in the community game."[12] Later he reported being asked about the strengths of the Australian conference relative to the South African and New Zealand conferences. In response he said: "I have found this year's competition to be one of the tightest in memory and this is more of a reflection on the strength of play from all teams as opposed to any perceived weaknesses."[13] In May, he reflected on the coaches' challenges of negotiating player contracts.[14]

On 19 March 2013, McKenzie announced he was to stand down as Queensland Reds head coach at the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season to further his hopes at coaching at international level.[15] Following the announcement, he was linked to the then vacant Ireland job, as well as the vacant Scotland job.[16][17] However, despite the links and meetings with other unions, it was the Wallabies job he wanted, which he landed on 8 July 2013. Although he wasn't set to take over the Wallabies job until 4 August, his reign at Queensland Reds ended on 20 July following a 38–9 defeat to the Crusaders in the Qualifiers of the 2013 season, allowing him to turn his attention to Australia 2 weeks earlier than expected.[18]

Head coach of Australia[edit]

On 8 July 2013, following the resignation of Robbie Deans after a test series defeat to the British and Irish Lions, McKenzie was expected to be selected as Wallabies coach.[19]

On 9 July 2013, McKenzie was officially named Wallabies coach to replace Robbie Deans, and that he would start his duties to Australia as soon as he is finished with the Queensland Reds.[20]

His first match in charge was a 47–29 loss to New Zealand at ANZ Stadium in the opening fixture of the 2013 Rugby Championship.[21] In this match he gave 5 debutants their first cap, including Matt Toomua being named at Fly-Half ahead of Quade Cooper. Toomua was the first Wallaby to make his debut against New Zealand in the starting XV since Rod Kafer in 1999. The 27–16 loss a week later, meant the Bledisloe Cup would stay with New Zealand for the 11th year in a row.[22] In addition to this, McKenzie led to team to a 38–12 loss to South Africa, making this loss the first to South Africa at Suncorp Stadium, as well as the biggest ever winning margin by South Africa over Australia in Australia.[23] The 14–13 win over Argentina was McKenzie's first taste of victory as an international coach, but the scoreless second half was the first time Australia had failed to score points in the second half since the home test v New Zealand in 2005.[24] Australia's poor form in the Championship continued into the away fixture against South Africa, where Australia lost 28–8 in Cape Town.[25] However, Australia's final fixture of the Championship saw the Wallabies earn their first bonus point win in the Championship and saw them score the most points in either the Rugby Championship / Tri Nations. Their 54–17 is now believed to be the start of the Ewen McKenzie era.[26] During the Championship, McKenzie made several bold moves as a coach. He dropped star player Will Genia for Nic White, who at the time had only 3 caps, and named Ben Mowen as captain in his first year as a test player.

During the Bledisloe 3, Australia were the team to score 33 points against New Zealand in New Zealand, as New Zealand won 41–33 to win the Bledisloe series 3–0. During their 2013 end of year tour, McKenzie led the team to 4 consecutive wins (50–20 win over Italy, 32–15 win over Ireland, 21–15 win over Scotland and a 30–26 win over Wales) which was the first time Australia has done this since 2008. The tour was a Grand Slam, but Australia were unable to win the tour after a 20–13 loss to England in the opening match of the tour. However, during the tour Australia did retain the Lansdowne Cup, reclaimed the Hopetoun Cup and claimed the James Bevan Trophy for the 6th time in a row.

In 2014, their 4 consecutive wins were increased to 7 for the first time since 2000. They earned a 3–0 test series win over France during the June International Window, which included a 50–23 win in Brisbane, a 6–0 win in Melbourne and a 39–13 win in Sydney. The series win meant Australia reclaimed the Trophée des Bicentenaires for the first time since 2010, after losing it in 2012.

The Wallabies's unbeaten run stretched to 8 matches with a 12–all draw with New Zealand, prompting optimism that Australia could end their 28 year losing streak at Eden Park. However, Australia came crashing back to earth, suffering a 51–20 defeat, stretching Australia's Bledisloe Cup drought to a 12 years. Australia managed to bounce back from that defeat, with hard fought 24–23 and 32–25 wins over South Africa and Argentina, with the latter win ensuring that Australia retained the Puma Trophy.

However, Australia was unable to reclaim the Mandela Challenge Plate, suffering a 28–11 loss to South Africa, after conceding 3 tries and a drop goal in the final 11 minutes of the match. A week later, Australia suffered a 21–17 loss to Argentina, their first loss to Argentina in 17 years. This loss meant that Australia became the first country to lose to Argentina in the Rugby Championship since Argentina's admittance in 2012. The loss came as a surprise to some, since Australia led 14–0 12 minutes into the match, but was unable to build on the 14 points until early on in the second half with a penalty.

On 18 October, the Wallabies played the All Blacks in the third and final Bledisloe Cup match of 2014. The Wallabies led for most of the match, leading 15–12 at half time. With 12 minutes to go in the match, Australia conceded 14 points, which included a last minute try in over-time, to lose 29–28. Following the match, McKenzie resigned as Head Coach of Australia, explaining that he handed in his resignation before the match, and that he was going to resign win, lose or draw against the All Blacks. His resignation came after a turbulent three weeks in the Australian camp, following much controversy off-field with Kurtley Beale, and with McKenzie and the playing group and staff. McKenzie left just 6 days before the team left Australia for their 2014 Spring Tour, where they had success in 2013. He left the Wallabies with 11 wins in 22 tests coached, a winning percentage of just 50%. He had a good winning record against European teams, 7 of 8 tests played - the lone loss was against England in November 2013 - and a good record against Argentina, a 3-1 win-loss record. However, he left with a poor record against other Rugby Championship opponents, failing to win a match against New Zealand and leaving with a 1-3 win-loss record against South Africa.

Kurtley Beale–Di Patston controversy[edit]

On 29 September, it was announced that Kurtley Beale would be investigated by the ARU over an alleged heated argument between Beale and a Wallabies team official, the team business manager Di Patston, on a 10-hour flight from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo. The incident, led to Patston leaving the tour all together on Tuesday 30 September, with McKenzie missing the teams first training session in Argentina to escort Patston to the airport on Tuesday afternoon.[27]

Initially, it was reported the argument was caused by an un-paid hotel bill that Patston informed Beale of while he was on the bench against South Africa on 27 September, claimed Kurtley Beale.[28] However, it was later announced that Patston requested Beale to change into his Wallabies polo-shirt while on the flight, which escalated into the heated argument.[29] It was understood that McKenzie was sitting next to Patston on the flight, and that it was a request from the head coach that Beale change his T-shirt for another piece of team gear which sparked the encounter. McKenzie had made the same request to second-rower Sam Carter, and it is understood that both players complied. But, Beale made a sarcastic comment as he returned to his seat, leading to Patston questioning Beale on the comment and McKenzie trying to intervene with the argument. Despite the incident, McKenzie kept Beale in the squad in Argentina, but did not name him in the match-day 23 for the match against Argentina.

On returning to Australia, evidence from the ARU integrity unit inquiry, revealed Beale was involved in an earlier incident before the first Test against France in Brisbane in June, in which he allegedly distributed photos and text messages referring to Patston. ARU chief executive Bill Pulver called a code of conduct tribunal into the incident, with the verdict of Beale being suspended. That meant that he was not in contention for selection for the 18 October All Blacks game.[30] It is understood the delay between Beale’s texts in June and the ARU’s discovery was due to the fact Patston attached a condition to her pledge to keep them secret and give him a second chance. According to the same report, it was reported that, "in the presence of three other Wallabies, Patston spoke to Beale in a Brisbane hotel before the first Test against France and told him she would reveal the contents of the texts if another incident arose".[31] According to Beale's manager, McKenzie knew about these texts back in June, and failed to do anything about it, and continued to play Beale during the Test series - even starting Beale at fly half in the opening two rounds of the Rugby Championship. McKenzie denied this in a press conference, saying he was only made aware of the incident when Patston told him in Argentina.[32]

On 10 October when McKenzie announced his 32-man squad for the Bledisloe Cup match, it took over 30 minutes for the press to ask McKenzie anything on the squad, while McKenzie came under fire. He was questioned about having an intimate relationship with Patston, adamant his position in charge of the Australian side had not been compromised.[33] According to reports, players in the team had become uneasy on how much influence Patston had on the team, and how much power McKenzie had given her, while some players believed she didn't have the qualifications for the roles she had in the team. Though McKenzie defended her, leading to questioning on their relationship. That same day, Patston resigned from the team.[34] As the fall-out continued, speculation mounted that McKenzie had lost the faith and trust of his players following the discovery that Patston had input into the disciplinary measures that occurred during the 2013 Spring Tour.[35]

On 13 October, the texts between Beale and Patston were revealed, with Patston confirming that McKenzie did not know about the text in June.[36] Michael Hooper came out and backed Beale to remain with Australia, while Christian Lealiifano and Quade Cooper joined McKenzie in backing Patston.[37][38] In the week leading up to the All Blacks match, the press went quiet on the incident, while Beale's disciplinary verdict was still being decided.

Coaching statistics[edit]



Opponent Played Won Lost Drew Win ratio (%)
 Argentina 4 3 1 0 75
 England 1 0 1 0 0
 France 3 3 0 0 100
 Ireland 1 1 0 0 100
 Italy 1 1 0 0 100
 New Zealand 6 0 5 1 0
 South Africa 4 1 3 0 25
 Scotland 1 1 0 0 100
 Wales 1 1 0 0 100
TOTAL 22 11 10 1 50

International Matches as Head Coach[edit]

Note: World Rankings Column shows the World Ranking Australia was placed at on the following Monday after each of their matches


Club honors[edit]

  • Super Rugby
    • Winners: 2011 (Queensland Reds)
    • Runners-up: 2005, 2008 (Waratahs) - 2000 (Brumbies)
  • Super Rugby Australian Conference
    • Winners: 2011, 2012 (Queensland Reds)
  • Australian Conference - Coach of the year
    • Winner: 2011, 2012

Other honors[edit]

The following honors are honors McKenzie picked up during his time as Assistant Coach for the Wallabies between 2000 and 2003.


  1. ^ "McKenzie named Wallabies coach". ESPN scrum. 
  2. ^ Australian Rugby Union profile
  3. ^ "Australia 21–9 France". ESPN scrum. 
  4. ^ "Australia 25–6 England". ESPN scrum. 
  5. ^ Ewen McKenzie match list
  6. ^ "Centenary Matches in New Zealand (World XV)". 
  7. ^ "Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie interested in Ireland job". BBC Sport. 
  8. ^ "Ewen McKenzie insists he is not Scotland coach". 
  9. ^ Moriarty, Iain (8 August 2009). "Stade sack McKenzie and Dominici". Scrum. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  10. ^ Growden, Greg (18 February 2012). "McKenzie has big plans for small pack". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  11. ^ McKenzie, Ewen (12 April 2012). "Scant knowledge can prove to be very dangerous when new players are thrust into high-pressure situations". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  12. ^ McKenzie, Ewen (19 April 2012). "Queensland coaching move doesn't mean it's all change at the Reds". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  13. ^ McKenzie, Ewen (26 April 2012). "Conference call: closeness a sign of competition's growing strength". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  14. ^ McKenzie, Ewen (3 May 2012). "Tough calls need to be made, on or off the phone". sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  15. ^ "McKenzie set to quit Queensland Reds". ESPN scrum. 
  16. ^ "McKenzie plays down Ireland link". ESPN scrum. 
  17. ^ "McKenzie and Smith in frame for Scotland post". Herald Scotland. 
  18. ^ "Crusaders romp into semi-finals". ESPN scrum. 
  19. ^ Fox Sports. "Australian Rugby Union confirms Robbie Deans 'stood down' from Wallabies job on Monday". Fox Sports. News. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  20. ^ ABC News. "Australian Rugby Union confirms Robbie Deans 'stood down' from Wallabies job on Monday". ABC. News. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "All Blacks put Wallabies to the sword". ESPN scrum. 
  22. ^ "All Blacks retain Bledisloe Cup". ESPN scrum. 
  23. ^ "Springboks embarrass Wallabies". ESPN scrum. 
  24. ^ "Wallabies finally win under Ewen McKenzie". ESPN scrum. 
  25. ^ "Springboks too good for Australia". ESPN scrum. 
  26. ^ "Wallabies humble Pumas in Rosario". ESPN scrum. 
  27. ^ "Kurtley Beale involved in mid-air incident". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  28. ^ "Kurtley Beale claims Di Patston confronted him during a Test about an unpaid hotel bill". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  29. ^ "How a T-shirt sparked drama for Kurtley Beale and the Wallabies". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  30. ^ "Kurtley Beale suspended by ARU over "offensive" texts allegation". BBC Sport. 
  31. ^ "Kurtley Beale’s exchange with Di Patston — Wallabies star pleaded for forgiveness over crude text messages". 
  32. ^ "McKenzie knew of Beale text four months ago". Stuff. 
  33. ^ "Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie slams rumours of Di Patston affair as Kurtley Beale fallout continues". ABC News. 
  34. ^ "Di Patston, Wallabies staffer who clashed with Kurtley Beale, has quit". the Guardian. 
  35. ^ "Australia ban six players for drinking before Ireland game". BBC Sport. 
  36. ^ "Kurtley Beale's texts to Di Patston revealed". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  37. ^ "Captain courageous Michael Hooper stands by Kurtley Beale". 
  38. ^ "Wallabies Quade Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano join Ewen McKenzie in backing Di Patston". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Robbie Deans
Australian national rugby union coach
Succeeded by
Michael Cheika