Maligned Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has received the backing of Rugby Australia following Australia's disastrous World Cup campaign in France. The Wallabies have slipped to their lowest ever world ranking having been all-but eliminated from the Rugby World Cup, unless Fiji fail to pick up a bonus point against Portugal.
Pressure has been piled on Jones with accusations he wasn't committed to the Wallabies after reportedly receiving a standing offer with Japan Rugby, which he denied at the World Cup. And Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh said the performance of the Wallabies have not been good enough in 2023.
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"I think it's been bitterly disappointing," the chief executive said. "We came here with a lot of hope and optimism and now everything is out of our hands and we've got to pray that Portugal get up against Fiji next week."
However, while many have called for the Wallabies to end Jones' contract early to look for a new coach, Waugh does not think this should be the case. Instead, Waugh said the players had to shoulder some of the blame for the Rugby World Cup disaster in France.
"You look at that game against Fiji, and we lose Taniela and Will Skelton during the week and that has a massive impact on that game, and 22-15, it's small margins and Fiji played well, we played poorly, and then you're out of the World Cup unless there's a miracle this weekend," the former Test flanker said.
Jones has come under plenty of pressure from former players, including All Blacks great Sonny Bill Williams, for opting to carry a young squad to the World Cup and leaving players such as Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper at home.
And Waugh believes Jones is committed to helping the Wallabies prepare for the next World Cup, which will be held in Australia. "Eddie's made his comments to me that he's committed and there's nothing there so I just say I've taken him for his word," Waugh said.
"I'm not going to go around speculating or trying to find out where conversations are occurring. We're committed to Eddie ... we'll go through the assessment of this campaign, but I think most importantly it's actually look at the overall structure of how Australian rugby."
Wallabies World Cup campaign in tatters
The Aussies are currently on 11 points after playing all their pool games, three behind first-placed Wales and one in front of Fiji in third. It seems a very long shot, but the Wallabies will actually advance to the quarters if Portugal can pull off a shock win over Fiji by more than seven points next weekend.
Fiji and Portugal will clash at 6am next Monday (Aussie time), with the Wallabies' fate in the hands of the Portuguese. If the minnows win by more than seven, Australia will be into the quarters.
But if Fiji win they will send the Wallabies home. A Portugal win by less than seven will also knock Australia out, because Fiji will earn a bonus point and finish equal with the Aussies on 11 points. Because Fiji beat Australia earlier in the World Cup, they own the tie-breaker.
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