AFL 2022: Ben Rutten sacked, Essendon axe coach, who takes over, James Hird, replacements

Essendon have finally made the call to sack coach Ben Rutten, effective immediately.

Rutten has faced speculation over his future all week long and on Sunday, following a board meeting, his fate was sealed.

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Rutten had a year to run on his contract, but he’ll now be on the job hunt for a 2023 role following the axing.

Essendon issued a statement shortly after the end of their board meeting where they confirmed Rutten had been let go.

“We know this has been an incredibly tough time for Ben and his family, and broadly, our whole club. We wish to thank Ben, as well as wife Kylie and children Jack and Bernie for their contribution to the Essendon Football Club,” President David Barham said.

“Ben’s commitment and care for this playing group was second to none, and we thank him for his dedication to what we recognise is an all-consuming role as senior coach.

“The unfortunate reality is, at various stages this season; we have simply been uncompetitive. And while we acknowledge that we have an emerging playing list, we were compelled to make the decision.

“Our members and supporters do, and should, expect better from a proud football club. We appreciate this has been a difficult chapter for our Club. But as I said in my President’s address pre-game yesterday, we will be a bold and courageous football club again. We need to return to being a successful football club.

“We will thoroughly and diligently consider our next steps and in due course, will communicate the process of our next senior coach appointment.”

The news comes after Rutten was visibly upset following the Bombers’ 66-point loss to the Tigers in the final game of the 2022 season.

He was filmed embracing family and wiping away tears as he mingled with club associates.

In the post-match press conference, he took aim at his treatment at the hand of the Bombers particularly this week.

“It’s been disappointing. I probably think I deserve better,” he said.

“I think that’s something we need to as a club just come together as a whole football club.

“I love coaching this footy club. I love coaching the players. I’ve got so much belief in the playing group, I’ve got so much belief in my staff and the people that are supporting me.

“What I saw this week has only given me more confidence in what I’m doing.”

Rutten kept his job earlier in the week when the board met to discuss hiring former Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson, who was officially unveiled as North Melbourne coach on Friday.

Essendon have been slammed by the football world for their treatment of Rutten and the news of his axing only saw the pile on continue.

Nine’s Mark Gottlieb posted: “What an embarrassing week for everyone involved in the Bombers. Senior people at the club have treated Rutten horrendously and should be ashamed of how this has played out.”

The Advertiser’s Patrick Keam wrote: “Those at the top should be deeply ashamed of their treatment of Ben Rutten.”

Channel 7’s Adrian Barich wrote: “Ben Rutten has been sacked. As a footy person I find that incredibly brutal. They’d better have a good replacement.”

Broadcaster Megan Hustwaite wrote: “I hope Ben Rutten and his family, friends and those at Essendon who will also be upset/disgusted/appalled behind closed doors are OK. The utter disrespect shown to him this week is disgusting. Any club who now gets his services is lucky! Good luck to him.?”

The Advocate’s Alex Fair wrote: “After this week, who would want to coach Essendon anyway? Whether this is the right outcome or not, you can’t dispute the fact that the way Rutten has been treated has been disgraceful. Not a period of time to be proud of at all.”

The club will now shift its focus to replacing Rutten’s role after they attempted a late charge at Alastair Clarkson.

Essendon legend and former coach James Hird has been linked with making a spectacular return. The next coach of the club will make it the fifth man in charge in 10 seasons.

Barham and chief executive Xavier Campbell will address the media on Sunday afternoon.

Originally published as Ben Rutten sacked effective immediately from Essendon coaching role

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