The Wallabies are set to make their earliest exit in Rugby World Cup history after a humiliating 40-6 loss to Wales in Lyon.
Never before have the Wallabies been bundled out of the tournament in the pool stage, but their campaign in France is all but over after the defeat to the Welsh.
The two-time world champions have a slim hope of staying alive if other results go their way and bonus points come into play, but they can expect to be packing their bags after their final pool match against Portugal next week.
Wales confirmed a quarterfinal berth with the victory, while Fiji – who stunned the Wallabies 22-15 last week – is in the box seat to also advance to the last eight.
It was an embarrassing performance against Wales, which left the Wallabies with a 1-7 win-loss record under coach Eddie Jones in 2023.
Jones’s future with the Wallabies is clouded, with media reports linking the veteran coach with a return to Japan after the World Cup, despite his long-term deal with Rugby Australia.
Long-time captain Michael Hooper, who controversially missed out on selection for the France squad, said on Stan Sport that some of the criticism was fair, but he did not want to see a pile-on.
“No-one is up for more hours than Eddie. There’s no lack of desire from that guy to make that team the best it can be,” he said.
“People will come under fire … but let’s pull the breaks off Eddie. I hate seeing people booed regardless of who they are.
“Players, coaches, they’re putting their nuts on the line. … Let’s not have a crack at the bloke.”
It was also a record loss for the Wallabies against Wales, adding further insult to the insipid performance.
The Wallabies could not have made a worst start to match in Lyon, giving away a penalty at the breakdown after play had just got underway from the kick-off.
They then conceded the opening try of the match when a brilliant Welsh attacking movement off first-phase ball from a line-out sent Gareth Davies over in the third minute.
Dan Biggar added the conversion, but the Wallabies settled and capitalised on Welsh indiscretions with back-to-back penalty goals from Ben Donaldson.
The Welsh were dealt a blow when Biggar left the field injured in the 12th minute, with his replacement Gareth Anscombe handed the kicking duties.
Anscombe missed his first attempt at a penalty goal but nailed his second in the 21st minute to give Wales a 10-6 advantage.
He added another two to establish a 16-6 lead at half-time.
The Wallabies only had themselves to blame to be trailing at the break, having wasted several attacking opportunities during the opening 40 minutes.
Perhaps the best example came via a lost line-out on their own throw deep inside the Welsh half when they trailed 10-6.
They also gifted Wales points by giving away penalties inside their half, a trend that continued only minutes after the break when poor discipline saw Anscombe extend the lead to 19-6.
Wales ended any hopes of a Wallabies comeback in the 48th minute when Anscombe executed a perfectly timed chip kick behind the defensive line, which was swooped on by Nick Tompkins.
Tompkins touched down for the try, which was converted by Anscombe to set up a 26-6 lead.
From this stage, it was a case of the Wallabies needing to avoid further embarrassment, but they could not stem the bleeding on the scoreboard as Wales piled on the points.
The Wallabies were kept scoreless in the second half as their hopes of keeping their campaign alive faded.
Koroiduadua out of RWC
Flying Fijians prop Jone Koroiduadua has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after sustaining an injury during the team’s training run.
He will be replaced by Emosi Tuqiri who joins the squad later this week.
Koroiduadua played two test matches for the Flying Fijians, against France and England before traveling with the team to the Rugby World Cup team base camp in Bordeaux.
On behalf of Flying Fijians players, coaches, and management, Head Coach Simon Raiwalui wished him all the very best in his recovery.
Manu Samoa go down to Argentina 19-10
Meanwhile, Manu Samoa suffered their first defeat in this year’s Rugby World Cup in France, going down 19–10 to Argentina in a bruising encounter early Saturday morning.
The game, which was played at the Saint-Etienne on Saturday morning (Samoa Time), saw Argentina score first through an Emiliano Boffelli try and then converted his own try and later kicked three penalties to maintain the gap in the scoreline for much of the match.
Argentina, which suffered its first defeat to England close to two weeks ago, needed to win to give itself a chance of making the playoffs and it did that by going into the break 13–3 up.
Samoa’s flyhalf Christian Leali’ifano had a poor night with the boot, only managing to convert one penalty. Manu’s sole try came from Sama Malolo which D’Angelo Leuila was able to convert.
In a rainy first half, Malolo’s try was the only time Manu threatened and scored with errors and penalties in both halves of the 80-minute match costing the Samoan side the game.
A boisterous crowd of Argentinian supporters in the stadium ensured the team kept on ticking with a rolling maul meters away from Samoa’s try line that appeared to have gifted Boffelli – if it wasn’t for a crunching tackle by Ulupano Seuteni that left him in a bad shape and resulted in him going off for a head injury assessment.
The Argentinians put the icing on the cake when 99th-cap veteran Nicolas Sanchez came off the bench in the second stanza and booted a last-minute penalty from the halfway mark to go up 19–10 to send their fans in the stands into a hysteria of celebration.
Having suffered their first loss, Manu will now have to regroup and face Japan next Friday at 8.00 am (Samoa Time) in their next group stage match.