LYON, France : Wallabies coach Eddie Jones came under a barrage of fire back home on Monday after his young team suffered Australia’s heaviest World Cup defeat to move to the brink of elimination from the tournament.
The 40-6 drubbing at the hands of Wales was a huge embarrassment for a proud rugby nation that won two of the first four World Cups in 1991 and 1999, and reached the final as recently as 2015.
“Forget the fact the Wallabies have a minor mathematical chance of getting through because it is all over,” Julian Linden wrote in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“For the first time in the history of the Rugby World Cup, the Wallabies will fail to make it past the pool phase, plunging the struggling code into a crisis that it may never recover from.
“A lot of the blame — and rightly so — will be directed at head coach Eddie Jones, though he is not the only culprit because this was a collective stuff-up on an industrial scale.”
Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones also rounded not only on Jones but also on the chairman of Rugby Australia Hamish McLennan, who sacked Dave Rennie in January to bring the former Japan and England coach home.
“If there is any decency, dignity or concern for the rugby family within Rugby Australia, the chairman, Hamish McLennan, and the coach, Eddie Jones, should be gone today,” he wrote in The Australian.
“(The players) were aimless to the point of embarrassment. So whatever the so-called ‘game plan’ was, it went out the window when they walked on the pitch.”
Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, previously a strong supporter of Jones, described the Wales loss as the “complete humiliation of a Wallabies side not strong enough to make it out of the weakest pool at the World Cup”.
“There is no way around it. The Eddie Jones experiment has been a disaster,” he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald. “All of us who thought it would work have been proved wrong. The magic he had has definitively gone.”
Iain Payton, writing in the same newspaper, said Jones’s decision to leave several experienced performers out of his squad in favour of youth had backfired disastrously against the Welsh.
“Ill-discipline and avoidable mistakes at the worst possible times let Wales get away, and an inexperienced Wallabies side – with many senior players watching on from a couch somewhere – didn’t have the composure to stop the bleeding, let alone mount a comeback,” he wrote.
The report that Jones had interviewed for the Japan head coaching job two weeks before the campaign started, which the 63-year-old flatly denied after the match on Sunday, only added to the vehemence of opinion against him.
“Where to from here?” asked FitzSimons. “I have no clue. But if Eddie is indeed going to Japan, that would solve one problem.”