Aussie media tear Wallabies to threads in wake of Fiji loss

The Wallabies have been ripped a new one by their native media outlets following their upset loss to Fiji in Pool C of the Rugby World Cup.

The Flying Fijians ran out 22-15 victors over Eddie Jones Wallabies in St-Etienne, their first win over the Aussies in nearly 70 years of Test rugby.

The Wallabies have the youngest squad at the World Cup, with Jones overlooking the likes of long-time captain Michael Hooper and veteran playmakers Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley.

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Their game plan fell apart without injured heavy-hitters, lock and skipper Will Skelton and prop Taniela Tupou with a telling 18-7 penalty count as the team struggled at the breakdown.

Christy Doran writing in his player ratings in The Roar, stated: “The Wallabies’ worst fears have been realised. Eddie Jones’ men must beat Wales in Lyon next weekend or risk becoming the first Australian side to miss the quarter-finals…”

“Without Will Skelton and Taniela Tupou, Jones’ men were smashed in the contact zone by the Fijians and were consequently annihilated at the breakdown, leading to the Wallabies giving away 18 penalties.”

Peter FitzSimons conceded that the win was a great result for the World Cup in The Sydney Morning Herald.

“As devastating as it is for the Wallabies, it is a great result for world rugby and this World Cup. The Fijian victory over England a month ago was no fluke. They are a great and superbly coached side who have now, officially, arrived on the world stage. Let the word go forth: Rugby World Cups are no longer a matter of the Six Nations sides, plus South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – with the rest making up the numbers. On their day, you feel like the Fijians could beat just about any side.

“Where to from here for the Wallabies? All is not lost, just close. It will all come down to beating Wales next week in Lyon so well that the Welsh don’t get bonus points. A good Welsh thumping will see the Wallabies get through the group stage intact. Hopefully, Will Skelton and Taniela Tupou will be back for that match, but I agree with Hoiles – right now the team is crying out for more experience. We are the youngest team in the entire World Cup and, while the hope was that would give us so much youthful energy and the other teams wouldn’t be able to cope, it ain’t working. Nothing is working.”

Julian Linden didn’t spare them in The Australian: “The Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup campaign is already on life support after a humiliating 22-15 loss to Fiji early on Monday morning. 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.

“Take nothing away from the Pacific Islanders, they fully deserved their historic win, but the Australians only have themselves to blame for their first loss to Fiji since 1954- before birth control pills and commercial jetliners were approved. 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.”

The British press weren’t much gentler. Ben Coles, writing in The Telegraph, said Fiji were “comprehensively the better side, a sign not only of their remarkable growth in a short space of time this year under Simon Raiwalui but also how far the Wallabies have dramatically fallen.

“The most shocking thing about the game was how normal it all felt.”

additional reporting AAP

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