Sydney (AFP): The Wallabies rugby team was blasted by the Australian media after their record defeat to Wales on Sunday left Eddie Jones’ side on the verge of an early World Cup exit.
The two-time world champions crashed to a 40-6 loss to the Welsh on the back of a shock pool defeat to Fiji to leave Australia’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals all but over. Sunday’s result was both Australia’s heaviest defeat at a Rugby World Cup and their worst-ever loss to Wales.
Australia, who have one pool game left against Portugal, are set to miss out on the World Cup knock-out stages for the first time in 10 tournaments having only beaten tier-two side Georgia so far in France.
“Rock Bottom: Wallabies worst nightmare comes true,” was the verdict of media outlets The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.
The latest loss ramps up the pressure on Australia head coach Eddie Jones after seven defeats in eight games since he took charge in January.
Following the defeat in Lyon, Jones apologised for the result but denied Australian media reports claiming he has been interviewed by the Japan Rugby Union about coaching their team after the World Cup.
Jones has also been heavily criticised for bringing an inexperienced squad to the Rugby World Cup.
“The Eddie Jones experiment can officially be declared a disaster after the Wallabies all but crashed out of the World Cup in record-breaking fashion,” rugby reporter Tom Decent wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Several Wallabies stars expressed their dismay at the result. “Shattered for @Wallabies but congrats to my valley friends,” wrote former Australia fly-half Matt Giteau on social media outlet X. “It didn’t have to be like this,” Wallabies back Bernard Foley, 34, also posted.
However veteran Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper, who Jones omitted from the World Cup squad because of injury, came to the head coach’s defence.
“A lot is going to come on Eddie, and maybe there’s some fairness in that,” Hooper told broadcaster Stan Sport.
“But I’ve been in the camp. No one is up for more hours than Eddie. Eddie is up until 11pm thinking about how to make the Wallabies team better, and he’s waking up at 3am answering messages.
“Let’s not have a crack at the bloke.” Former New Zealand international and Stan Sport pundit Sonny Bill Williams said he felt for the players and travelling Australian supporters, who left the stadium early in their droves.
“That second half, they looked like a team that just lost belief,” said Williams, a double World Cup winner with the All Blacks. “40-6 was really embarrassing and I feel for these kids. They’re going to carry this on for the rest of their careers and feel this until they get to come back here again and rectify it.”