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Rod Macqueen takes no credit for Stephen Larkham’s phenomenal drop goal against the Springboks to help the Wallabies reach the 1999 Rugby World Cup final.
“I’d like to think I told Larkham to score the goal, but I didn’t,” he joked in an interview with The Roar.
But you wouldn’t have been surprised if he had.
Thanks to thousands of votes from our readers, The Roar counts down the Wallabies’ greatest ever World Cup XV from 15th to 1st. This is our final selection.
Macqueen was a meticulous planner.
“I really believe a World Cup is about planning, unlike the British and Irish Lions where it’s something completely different,” he said.
“It’s about planning, it’s about thinking about where you want to be in two years and making early decisions about what’s going to happen in two years.”
Compare that to Eddie Jones’ Wallabies, who are about to begin their World Cup opener against Georgia. The experienced coach not only returns to the role in mid-January, but also throws a spanner in the works at the end of July by saying goodbye to old pros Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper.
Macqueen says planning can help, but adds that Jones at least has the advantage of knowing the international landscape.
“I’m just talking about the ideal scenario but I think you have to look and see, which I’m sure Eddie does too, what the game is going to be, what brand of rugby the best teams are playing and make sure you can overcome that,” Macqueen said.
Suffice it to say Macqueen did this, using all his business knowledge to ensure the Wallabies were primed for a late, grand entry into the World Cup.
“Intrinsic planning in a World Cup,” Macqueen said, was the key difference in the World Cup compared to coaching the Lions to victory, “the beginning, the journey and the destiny was there.”
But even in the Wallabies’ extra-time victory over the Springboks, John Eales’ side knew what they wanted to do.
“I think the team’s composure kept us going,” he said.
“We arrived before extra time and had already discussed what would happen in extra time and how we would proceed. Everyone was pretty calm about it.”
Macqueen’s relationship with Eales was crucial to her success.
“We got along really well and he was able to bring out the best for the team and the best for the individual,” Macqueen said.
“That didn’t necessarily make him the most popular captain at times.
“He was always part of the management discussions we had and sometimes the good of the team is not seen as the good of some individuals. He was very good at understanding the big picture and seeing it through.”
After Greg Smith’s tenure, Macqueen could have turned his back on Eales.
“We reopened it and in the end he was the right person for the job,” Macqueen said.
The most important decision he made?
“It was an important decision. Yes, I think so,” he said.
“We had long meetings and long discussions for several months and it was the right decision.”
Macqueen’s great skill was taking advantage of the people around him.
The World Cup-winning coach didn’t claim to believe he knew everything, instead using his assistant coaches – and players, including Rod Kafer – to push the Wallabies’ tactics.
But that was Macqueen’s great ability to put his ego aside for the good of the team and deliver the Wallabies’ second World Cup triumph.
It was a moment and a team that Australian rugby fans have clung to for two decades.
Rod Macqueen is your head coach of choice The Roar’s Greatest Wallabies Rugby World Cup XV, Powered by ASICS, the official supplier of performance apparel and footwear for the Wallabies. Macqueen won with 59.3% of the vote, followed by Bob Dwyer and Eddie Jones.
The Roar’s Greatest Wallabies Rugby World Cup XV
https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/09/08/greatest-xv-beginning-journey-destiny-the-mastermind-behind-the-wallabies-last-world-cup-triumph/ The greatest Wallabies team of all time, Rod Macqueen