Super Rugby: Cantabrian Rob Penney fired as NSW Waratahs head coach

NSW Waratahs have parted ways with head coach Rob Penney, after five defeats in five games left the team bottom of the Super Rugby AU standings.

The Waratahs lost 46-14 to Queensland Reds on Saturday, leaving them 22 points adrift of the table-leading Reds.

Injuries and the departure of key players have hampered the Waratahs this year, leaving Penney and his coaching staff to rely on an inexperienced squad.

"The decision to part ways with Penney was not taken lightly," says NSW Waratahs chief executive Paul Doorn. "Being the coach of the NSW Waratahs is one of the most high-profile and high-pressure roles in Australian rugby.

"Rob is extremely professional and has put a great deal of effort into the role. However, the on-field performances this season have not met expectations and we feel that, in the best interests of the Waratahs, now is the time to make a change."

Assistant coaches Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker will take charge of the team for the remainder of the 2021 season.

After their loss to the Reds, Penney said the youthful Waratahs needed to recruit experienced players.

"There's no lack of effort, the boys are working really hard out on the field and no-one's rolling over," the New Zealander said.

"But it's a massive project. We need resources, we need to strategically recruit in a couple of areas, so that the organisation can move forward more quickly than just relying on the youthful guys to come through."

Penney played No.8 for Canterbury and coached the province to four consecutive provincial championships from 2008-11, before guiding Munster in the Pro 12 competition and Shining Arcs in the Japanese Top League.  

He signed a three-year contract with the Waratahs in October 2019, but managed only one win from six games, before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 Super Rugby competition. 

The Waratahs won four games and lost four in domestic Super Rugby AU 2020, missing the three-team playoffs.

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