Players, fans and critics alike have praised the role departing Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning has had in growing and improving the state of women's rugby in Australia.
The Wallaroos sent their coach Tregonning out a winner with a gutsy and emotional 25-19 win over Wales last Friday.
Playing with 14 after Siokapesi Palu's red card, Australia had to repel one last Wales raid on their line to hold on for victory and finish their WXV1 campaign on a high.
It was indeed a fitting way for the Cordeaux Heights father of two and former Tech Waratahs junior to end his helm in charge of the Wallaroos.
Tregonning though has had little time to reflect and celebrate, heading back to school this week to teach and coach at prestigious Sydney school The King's School.
He informed Rugby Australia and the players in late August, early September that he wouldn't reapply for the head coach job when his contract expired at the end of this year.
"They were always going to advertise, move the position full time, but I just let them know that I wasn't going to reapply,"Tregonning said.
"There's a few life events that are occurring over the next couple of years and I didn't want to be away as much as I had been."
Though the former TIGS teacher told the Mercury he still definitely wanted to keep involved in high performance rugby and see what opportunities come available in the near future.
"I'm back at school teaching at Kings. I've been fortunate to get another 12 months teaching at Kings so I'll be moving away from the Wollongong area unfortunately and head up there for 12 months and just see what happens after that," Tregonning said.
The 45-year-old said he enjoyed coaching the Wallaroos immensely.
"I got appointed at the end of 2021. Obviously coming out of COVID I didn't really know what 2022 was going to look like but obviously fortunate enough to get the Test matches in last year and go away to the World Cup last year with them.
"And then and again with an extended calendar this year with the inclusion of the WXV1 that we just played in, just getting some more Test matches for the players is outstanding," he said.
"The Wallaroos have now played their 74th test. We're still well behind the Six Nations teams that have played hundreds of Test matches but as a group they're obviously getting experience with the more Tests they play.
"It definitely showed in the last couple of games that you can compete with the top nations in the world if we get things right, that's for sure."
His players definitely appreciated what Tregonning brought to the table, with Wallaroos captain Michaela Leonard leading the tributes after the No 5 side in the world Australia beat the No 6 side Wales at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium.
"Jay's been incredible for this group. He's come in when we're in a transition period, we had a lot of our older, more experienced girls retiring and obviously working towards a little bit more of a professional, full-time platform," the lock said.
"And he's done really well with a group of inexperienced, relatively young players to build our confidence, teach us how to be professional on and off the field and to keep us building.
"I think you can see that with our improvements over the last 12 months."
This improvement and increasing the playing pool also pleased Tregonning.
"You obviously get judged on results but the results are the rewards of the hard work that the girls have put in," he said.
"We've spoken a lot about how the girls are part-time, they're coming from jobs during the week and they're training at night and they might be doing their gym in the morning and just trying to fit things in and you know, train a couple of times a week when we're not in camp.
"But when we're together in camp, we treat them like professional athletes, like they deserve to be.
"To get those results in the last two games, especially that good win against France who were above us in the world rankings, was an awesome reward for the hard work that they've put in.
"The other highlight for me was giving debuts to 29 girls since I took over last year.
"The depth of the group is increasing and every single player has come on and done a really good job for the country.
"We had 30 girls available for the last Test match, which is our whole touring squad.
"To be able to manage the squad through a tough series of games and to have 30 available players who have all had Test caps, was an outstanding way to finish the tournament."
While there has been some "missed opportunities" with close losses to Japan, Canada, USA and "heartbreakingly" falling just short of being the first Wallaroos team to beat New Zealand's Black Ferns, Tregonning was incredibly pleased with the team's consistency and trajectory, especially in their "impressive" last two wins.
He was hopeful now that women rugby players in Australia would receive more support on and off the park.
"There's obviously been steps put in place and there's been a gradual increase," he said.
"The success of the Matildas shows where the Australian sporting landscape is in regards to women's sport. I think the trajectory our girls are on needs to continue.
"Everything that's been said that was going to happen during my tenure has happened from a Rugby Australia point of view.
"Obviously there's only limited resources and finances that can go around. The discussion now is probably how they can be allocated more equitably.
'I think from our point of view we will start seeing some professional contracts being handed out over the next couple of years and hopefully going into the 2025 World Cup we've got some players that have been afforded the time to be able to get better in rugby.
"That's what professionalism is. Everyone talks about getting paid to do the job, but it's just making sure that they've got time to be the best they can be.
"Then by the home World Cup in 2029 hopefully we are seeing more than just the Wallaroos' squad who are professional rugby players.
"If we've got a professional rugby competition that sits underneath that for girls, then that's just going to make the Wallaroos stronger as well."
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