Rob Penney's position was untenable, but same should be said of NSW Rugby Board

play
Where was Waratahs' succession planning? (2:58)

As the fallout from the Waratahs' sacking of Rob Penney continues, the ESPN Scrum Reset crew dig into the club's failed recruitment and retention. (2:58)

It's hard not to feel a little bit sorry for New Zealander Rob Penney.

To say the coach had been dealt a tough hand over the past 18 months would be putting it lightly, but such was Waratahs' descent into a complete on-field rabble that the NSW Rugby Board was left with no choice but to swing the axe and end Penney's tenure.

And that's exactly what the Board, headed by chairman Roger Davis, did Sunday morning just a few hours after yet another listless showing against the Queensland Reds, when the Waratahs were yet again meekly cast aside in a 46-14 drubbing at ANZ Stadium.

It was a fifth straight loss to the start the season, the third when they had conceded in excess of 40 points.

The Olympic precinct has had its fair share of near-silent Waratahs matches over the years, but the soulless 80 minutes that engulfed ANZ Stadium over the weekend was a sign of just how far NSW have fallen.

Just seven years ago the venue hosted a record Super Rugby crowd of more than 60,000 when the Waratahs defeated the Crusaders in a gripping final thanks to a 79th minute Bernard Foley penalty goal.

On Saturday night the Waratahs could muster little more than one decent attacking raid that netted a try to No. 8 Will Harris; they otherwise looked completely lost, as they have done for much of the Super Rugby AU season.

ESPN reported on cultural problems before the start of the season while the mass exodus of players is well known. The lack of Super Rugby experience was always going to be a problem, one only made worse by injuries to skipper Jake Gordon and the few other players within the squad who had either tasted Test rugby or had already cut their teeth at the provincial level.

The decision not to spend the entirety of the salary cap and other roster moves were curious at best.

After having 10 players in the Wallabies squad last year, just four Waratahs players were on Sunday named in Dave Rennie's 40-man squad for a training camp on the Gold Coast next month.

That is a disgraceful result for a franchise that should at least consistently be pushing the Brumbies and Reds for the number of players in a Test squad.

And that is the worry for the game in NSW moving forward. Just who is going to want to come in and try and dig the franchise out of its current mess?

Offered the chance to join the firing Brumbies and Reds, the improving Rebels or a Force outfit that is recruiting from all over the world and has the backing of a billionaire, what sane youngster or street-smart returning veteran would opt for Daceyville and the current Waratahs rabble?

It's going to take a special -- or completely crazy -- coach to tie his career to these Waratahs, particularly given what has happened to Penney.

The answer to the franchise's long-term development strategy was right under their nose in Simon Cron two years ago, but the decision was made to extend Daryl Gibson before the former Crusader opted for the door himself, leading to Penney's appointment.

As departed Waratahs playmaker Mack Mason told ESPN a fortnight ago, Cron was seen as a "great people manager with massive potential", a man whose drills were at the cutting edge of rugby and are sadly now being honed in the Japanese Top League with Toyota Verblitz.

If there is one small ray of sunshine in this utter, utter calamity of management, it's that Cron is coaching Wallabies captain Michael Hooper; perhaps the veteran openside can start working on Cron for next year?

Multiple Shute Shield-premiership winning coach Darren Coleman -- who is currently forging into rugby's latest professional frontier at the helm of LA Giltinis in the United States -- is another who has seemingly served a long and hugely successful apprenticeship in Australian rugby and other parts of the world, and is someone capable of turning the Waratahs around.

With any coaching exit, there are always random names thrown up as a replacement, but it is hard to see the Rugby Football Union doing away with Eddie Jones. And even less so that NSW Rugby would consider bringing back Michael Cheika. The former Wallabies boss is tied to Lebanon for the Rugby League World Cup anyway. Yes, truthfully.

Just how the NSW Rugby board and chief executive Paul Doorn attempt to bring the organisation out of what is now undoubtedly its lowest point of the professional era is indeed hard to fathom.

At a time when everything else in Australian rugby is ticking along with a degree of optimism about it, the fact that the Waratahs are the embarrassment of the nation's rugby identity is inexcusable. Those north of the border might be reveling in the Waratahs' predicament, but any true rugby fan should also understand its longer-term impact.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan and chief executive Andy Marinos were right to express their concerns; both men recognise the chunk of the national rugby market that resides in NSW.

So the decision-makers at the top of NSW Rugby must bear the responsibility for this Waratahs' fiasco. They've made the first move and dumped Penney from an untenable coaching situation, but it's hard to see how chairman Davis and those other individuals who made that decision don't find themselves lying prone at the bottom of the same deep dark ruck.