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  Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Macqueen bows out at the top
Rod Macqueen (left) bows out on a high note
Rod Macqueen (left) bows out on a high note
By BBC Sport Online's John May

Rod Macqueen had little choice but to obey one of sport's great rules to always go out on a winning note.

Australia's 2-1 series win over the Lions left the Wallabies' coach with nothing left to win.

A series win over the Lions eluded Australia for 102 years, but the celebrations in Stadium Australia which followed the 29-23 win on Saturday was the completion of the most impressive CV in Australian rugby.

The 1999 World Cup, the 2000 Tri-Nations title and three successive Bledisloe Cup wins over deadly All Black rivals from across the Tasman Sea, bulge in the Wallabies' trophy cabinet.

They mark Macqueen out as the most successful coach in Australian rugby union history.


I can bow out a very happy man
Rod Macqueen

During Macqueen's four-year tenure the Wallabies posted an unrivalled record of 34 wins, one draw and eight defeats for a success ratio of close to 80%.

"It was a great way for me to go out. I can bow out a very happy man," said Macqueen who raised Australian rugby to the highest peak from a very low trough.

The Wallabies had crashed 61-22 to South Africa and Macqueen hardly enjoyed an auspicious start as Australia were beaten by Argentina not long after he took over.

Macqueen rebuilt the team as if it were an underperforming company, having built up a successful business consultancy firm before moving into coaching full-time.

He transplanted a successful formula he had used in guiding the ACT Brumbies to the 1997 Super 12 title.

Wallaby celebration scenes have been a common sight under Macqueen
Wallaby celebration scenes have been a common sight under Macqueen

A specialist defence coach was added and Macqueen established a coastal training base where the Wallabies gather each year.

Macqueen also grafted on the ball-in-hand game that brought the Brumbies success.

At the core of a game that involved a dizzying array of phases and dummy runs, was flyhalf Stephen Larkham.

The results began to flow quickly, beginning with a 3-0 Bledisloe Cup whitewash of New Zealand in 1998.

Capping

Australia won the World Cup a year later, then the Tri-Nations title for the first time in 2000 before capping it with the Lions victory.

As he bowed out amid scenes of celebration, Macqueen said: "My greatest memories of this team will be the composure we showed under pressure. When we've had a problem we've been able to overcome it."

"We played the game smart which is something we talk about at the Wallabies."


He's been here a long time and it's been a great era for Australian rugby
Wallabies' skipper John Eales

Australian captain John Eales led the praise from the players, saying: "Rod's been involved since 1997. He's been there a long time and it's been a great era for Australian rugby.

Macqueen originally planned to retire after Australia's Tri-Nations title defence this year but announced after the Wallabies' series-levelling second test win over the Lions in Melbourne that he would leave early, and confirmed that decision on Saturday.

Successor Eddie Jones, who led the Brumbies to this year's Super 12 title, faces a hard act to follow, but Macqueen said: "It's time for someone new and Eddie will do a fantastic job."

Macqueen plans to spend his retirement fishing - and as a winner in a nation of sporting winners, you can only feel sorry for the fish.

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14 Jul 01 | Lions Down Under
14 Jul 01 | Lions Down Under
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