‘Nightmare’ – Rugby Australia and Eddie Jones under huge pressure after World Cup ‘disaster’

Colin Newboult

Eddie Jones ahead of Australia's game with Fiji in the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

The Australian media have unsurprisingly savaged Eddie Jones, the team and Rugby Australia following their defeat to Fiji on Sunday.

It was their first loss to the Pacific Islanders since 1954 and put their Rugby World Cup knockout qualification in doubt.

The Wallabies now have to overcome Wales to give themselves a shot at reaching the quarter-finals after they succumbed 22-15 to Simon Raiwalui’s men.

Governing body RA are coming under increasing scrutiny following their decision to sack Dave Rennie eight months out from the global tournament and replace him with Eddie Jones.

Struggles on the field

Jones has endured a disastrous start to his tenure, losing six of his seven matches, with their only victory coming against Georgia on the opening weekend of the World Cup.

“The Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup campaign is already on life support after a humiliating 22-15 loss to Fiji early on Monday morning,” Julian Linden wrote in The Australian.

“The Wallabies have suffered some embarrassing defeats over the years but few as painful and gut wrenching as the nightmare that unfolded in St Etienne.

“Eddie Jones has talked a big game since he was reappointed as head coach at the start of 2023 but when the pressure was applied his Wallabies folded in a heap.

“Now the board of Rugby Australia — which sacked Dave Rennie and appointed Jones as the team’s saviour — has some explaining to do because this was an unmitigated disaster that the struggling code may never recover from.

“The Wallabies are now facing the mortifying prospect of failing to make it out of the group stage for the first time ever at a World Cup.”

Jamie Pandaram in The Daily Telegraph went in harder on Jones and questioned his muddled selection policy, a criticism that was thrown at him during the latter stages of his England tenure.

Faith in Jones dissipated

“When it came down to the final 20 minutes, with the game on the line, the Wallabies had Ben Donaldson as their five-eighth, and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa as halfback. They weren’t even in Eddie Jones’ Rugby Championship squad,” Pandaram wrote.

“This can’t have been the plan. Wallabies fans had hoped Jones was devising some World Cup masterplan as they watched the side humbled in South Africa, crumble to Argentina, lose twice to New Zealand and get comprehensively outplayed by France in the lead-up to the tournament.

“Jones has been a World Cup specialist. That’s why he was brought in by Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan and the board at the start of the year to replace Dave Rennie. He’s orchestrated shock results and taken teams deep.

“The faithful believed he would do it again, despite the alarming results so far this year. Well, that faith is all but gone. This Wallabies team look as ill-prepared as any playing in France.”

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