Michael Cheika

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Michael Cheika
Date of birth (1967-03-04) 4 March 1967 (age 48)
Place of birth Sydney, NSW, Australia
Occupation(s) Rugby union coach
Rugby union career
Current status
Position(s) Head coach of Australia
Playing career
Position No. 8
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
CASG Paris
Rugby Livorno
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1997 NSW Waratahs
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1988 Australia U-21
Coaching career
Years Club / team
Stade Français
NSW Waratahs

Michael Cheika (born 4 March 1967) is an Australian rugby union football coach and a former rugby player. He was appointed to coach the Australian national team in October 2014, and he is also the current coach of the New South Wales Waratahs.

Cheika previously coached Padova, Randwick, Leinster and Stade Français before being recruited as the head coach of the Waratahs in 2012.[1] He is the only coach to have won the major rugby club competition in each hemisphere, winning the Heineken Cup with Leinster in 2009 and the Super Rugby competition with the Waratahs in 2014.

Playing career[edit]

Cheika was a No. 8 who played for Australia at U-21 level.[2] He played more than 300 games for Randwick, winning seven Shute Shields during a period when the Galloping Greens dominated Sydney rugby.[3] He captained Randwick between 1997 and 1999,[2] and represented New South Wales on their spring tour of the UK in 1997.

Cheika played three seasons in France from 1989 to 1992, for Castres Olympique in Division 1 and for Paris team Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux (later merged with Stade Français) in Division 2. He then joined Italian side Rugby Livorno alongside Randwick teammate David Knox from 1992 to 1994.

Coaching career[edit]

Padova and Randwick[edit]

Cheika had never coached before but when David Campese brought a coaching job to his attention in Italy in 1999 he applied and was successful. Cheika and Knox coached Padova through a Heineken Cup campaign but did not yield any wins.[4]

Cheika returned to Sydney in 2001 when his father fell ill. With European coaching experience under his belt he secured the Randwick coaching ticket and guided his old club to a Shute Shield victory in 2004.[2]


Cheika replaced Declan Kidney as head coach at Leinster in May 2005. Mick Dawson, Leinster's chief executive described it as a calculated punt.[4] Kidney had left in contentious circumstances having agreed a move to rivals Munster before the season's end and Leinster were said to be in disarray.[5] Cheika brought assistant David Knox, his former teammate, with him to Ireland.

Cheika's first season culminated in a Heineken Cup semi–final against Munster, which Munster won on their way to lifting the trophy. Cheika's second season in charge was a difficult one as Leinster were knocked out of the Heineken Cup at the quarter-final Stage by London Wasps The 07/08 season saw more European disappointment when Leinster failed to get out of their qualifying pool, but Leinster did secure the Celtic League trophy with a bonus point win against Newport Gwent Dragons. It was Cheika's first trophy as Leinster coach and Leinster's first since 2001's Celtic League.[6]

Leinster added Alan Gaffney in for the 2009 season as backs coach to add to Kurt McQuilkin as defence coach and forwards coach Jono Gibbes.[7] Leinster lost their Magner's Celtic League crown to Munster in 2009 but European success was achieved in Leinster's first Heineken Cup final, which they won 19–16, becoming the club champions of Europe.[8]

He left his post with Leinster Rugby at the end of the 2009–10 season to become head coach for French Top 14 side Stade Français.

Stade Français[edit]

Cheika was Director of Rugby of the Paris-based club between 2010 and 2012. It has been reported that his time at Stade Français was less successful than at previous clubs with off-field trauma and mediocre on-field results making his life very difficult culminating in him being sacked.[9]

New South Wales[edit]

Cheika was appointed as head coach of the New South Wales Waratahs in 2012 for the 2013 Super Rugby season.[1] It was reported that his contract was for three years. Cheika coached the Waratahs to their first ever minor-premiership in 2014, with the team finishing seven points ahead of their nearest rivals. The Waratahs defeated the ACT Brumbies in the semi-final which earned them a first-ever home final against their Christchurch-based rivals, the Canterbury Crusaders, whom the Waratahs had not defeated in over a decade. In the 2014 Super Rugby final, The Waratahs won; beating the Crusaders by a single point, 33-32, in a nail-biter in front of a Super Rugby record crowd of over 61,007 people at ANZ Stadium, Sydney.[3]


Cheika was appointed as the head coach of the Australia national team on 22 October 2014, with a three-year contract that would see him take the Wallabies through the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[10]

He took over after Ewen McKenzie's shock resignation the previous week and had very little time with the team before joining the player contingent on 24 October to fly to Europe for the Wallabies 2014 Spring tour. In his first match as coach, Australia defeated the Barbarians 40-36.[11]




Private life[edit]

Cheika is the son of Lebanese migrants. He is the youngest of three children and grew up in a working-class home in Coogee, New South Wales.[15] He previously worked for dress designer Collette Dinnigan, before starting a multimillion-dollar fashion business of his own called Live Fashion.[11] He speaks fluent Arabic, French and Italian.[16][17]

Cheika married in June 2008.[18] He was known amongst the Leinster rugby fraternity as Mic Check 1–2, a humorous allusion to his name, Craig McLachlan's band and his eagerness that all facets of preparation were scrutinised and reviewed prior to matchday.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Michael Cheika confirmed as Waratahs coach". The Australian. 18 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Michael Cheika". Leinster Rugby. 
  3. ^ a b "Cheika appointed Waratahs Coach". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  4. ^ a b "Wild card". Irish Independent. 
  5. ^ "Declan Kidney". RTE. 
  6. ^ "Celtic League Final: Red card for Miller spoils Leinster win". The Telegraph. 2008. 
  7. ^ "Leinster". RTE. 
  8. ^ "Chieka is rewarded after leading Leinster to glory". Belfast Telegraph. 2009. 
  9. ^ "Michael Cheika to coach the Waratahs". Green and Gold Rugby. 
  10. ^ "Michael Cheika unveiled as Wallabies coach". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Wallabies hold Barbarians in 40-36 thriller". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2014. 
  12. ^ 2007–08 Celtic League
  13. ^ 2009 Heineken Cup Final
  14. ^ "Waratahs win maiden Super Rugby crown". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2014. 
  15. ^ Bret Harris (2 August 2014). "Waratahs coach Michael Cheika a gentle giant with an iron will". The Australian. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Vincent Hogan (2009-05-23). "Wild card". Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Bret Harris (22 September 2012). "Michael Cheika will bring his no compromise style to NSW Waratahs". The Australian. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Cheika Wedding". 2008. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ewen McKenzie
Australian national rugby union coach
Succeeded by