Who’s hot and who’s not: Fiji’s famous win and Eddie Jones’ Wallabies

Colin Newboult
Fiji after Rugby World Cup win over Wallabies as Eddie Jones looks on.

Fiji after Rugby World Cup win over Wallabies as Eddie Jones looks on.

It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.


Fantastic Fiji: The atmosphere has been superb at all of the games, but let’s be honest, this Rugby World Cup needed livening up on the field, and the Pacific Islanders have done just that. After just going down to Wales last weekend in the match of the tournament so far, they followed that up with an excellent showing against Australia. They dominated most facets of the game and deservedly came away with a 22-15 triumph, giving them a big shot of making the World Cup quarter-finals.

Impressive Ireland: Yes, they still have their two toughest pool games to come, but Andy Farrell’s men have looked mightily impressive so far in the Rugby World Cup. The Irishmen have been cohesive and physical, racking up big victories against Romania and, most latterly, Tonga. In previous global tournaments, when they have flattered to deceive, these games have been real banana skins for them, so the fact that Ireland are dispatching these opponents with ease is a positive sign.

Johnny Sexton breaks record: Congratulations to the 38-year-old, who became Ireland’s highest points scorer in Test rugby during their victory over Tonga on Saturday. He overtook Ronan O’Gara when he touched down against the Pacific Islanders and now stands on 1,090 points in internationals, seven ahead of O’Gara. An absolute Irish legend.

Excellent efforts from ‘minnows’: On paper, the games at the weekend – certainly prior to Sunday – didn’t look the most competitive, but Uruguay and Portugal definitely made them so. Los Teros, in particular, gave hosts France a real fright and, had it not been for a disastrous charge-down try, the South Americans could have sneaked it in the final 20 minutes. As for Os Lobos, they were excellent against Wales, but inaccuracy at key times cost them. If they had tidied up those errors, then a shock was very much on the cards. However, both they and Uruguay deserve massive plaudits for the manner in which they played.

Organisers listen over anthems: As great as the choir idea was for the national anthems at the Rugby World Cup, it had to be removed after so many out-of-tempo renditions over the opening weekend. The resulting outcry from the rugby public forced the organisers to change, and it has been so much better. Well done to the hierarchy who have listened and responded accordingly.


Galling Malcolm Marx injury: It was absolutely gutting to see the Springboks hooker be ruled out of the rest of the Rugby World Cup. Obviously, it is a big blow for South Africa, who are already without some key players through injury, but ultimately, our first thoughts were with the player himself. A World Cup is the pinnacle of a player’s career, so to see that opportunity taken away so suddenly is cruel.

Eddie Jones and Rugby Australia: The Wallabies still may make it to the World Cup quarter-finals and potentially even beyond, but at the moment, the decision to sack Dave Rennie is looking an extremely poor one. Although results were bad in 2022, it felt like they weren’t too far away, but the governing body decided to make a change anyway, knowing that Jones is renowned as someone who makes an immediate impact. However, it has been a disastrous 2023 so far, culminating in their loss to Fiji. If Australia fails to make it through the pool stages, which would be the first time ever at the global tournament, does that make the 63-year-old’s position untenable?

Bunker inconsistency continues to frustrate: To make it clear, we think it is a good idea. It has already sped up the game and should, in time, bring more accurate decisions, but at the moment, there is still odd inconsistency. That was the case with the Romain Taofifenua tackle, whose yellow card was never upgraded. It was high, with force, to the head area while there was no attempt to wrap. Yes, there may have been a slight dip in height from the Uruguayan, but Taofifenua was always illegal, and therefore, he was fortunate not to be sent off.

Vincent Pinto’s kung-fu kick: We were surprised that there was such outrage from some sections of social media over the decision to red-card the Portuguese wing. While it wasn’t as obvious as Tevita Nabura’s – who was sent off for a similar incident in 2018 – it didn’t look a natural place for his leg to be in. He would have seen Josh Adams coming and perhaps instinctively, rather than purposefully, put himself in that position, but it was still a very dangerous and reckless act and deserved a red card.

Rancid Romania: It is tough to criticise a tier two side when they don’t get the support, backing or opportunities of the bigger teams, but the Oaks have been abysmal in their first two matches. As mentioned, the likes of Uruguay, Portugal and Chile have competed extremely well despite the disadvantages they have, but Romania simply haven’t shown up. Under Andy Robinson, they were a competitive outfit, but since his sudden resignation late last year, they have regressed at an alarming rate.

READ MORE: David Campese exclusive: Five takeaways as Wallabies a ‘painful’ watch against ‘bloody brilliant’ Fiji