'Never thought I'd see this': Wallabies suffer unprecedented blow

Australia's diminished standing in world rugby has been laid bare by a damning statistic in the wake of their disappointing quarter-final defeat to England.

The Wallabies have dropped below Japan in the world rankings after their Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit but there could be worse to come.

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Australia's 40-16 loss to England saw them dip one place to seventh, having been leapfrogged by tier two tournament darlings Japan.

It is the Wallabies' equal lowest ranking since World Rugby's ratings system was introduced in 2003.

They could slump even further when the rankings update next weekend although it would require upset results in the two quarter-finals played on Sunday.

The Wallabies were shattered after their heavy defeat to England. Pic: Getty

Japan must beat South Africa to stay in front of Australia while eighth-placed France could climb four places if successful against Wales.

England climbed to No.2, setting the scene for an epic semi-final against New Zealand, who retained top spot courtesy of their 46-14 quarter-final crushing of Ireland.

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However, it was Australia's position below Japan in the rankings that caused consternation for many fans.

The Wallabies - two-time World Cup winners and long considered a powerhouse of the sport - now trail relative rugby minnows Japan in the world standings.

The world rankings slump is another tough pill to swallow for the Wallabies after their World Cup came to an end in such disappointing circumstances against England.

Wallabies coach stands by tactics

The 40-16 drubbing is the heaviest loss the Wallabies have suffered in nine editions of the World Cup and a sour note to end on for Cheika, who is almost certainly set to be shown the door by Rugby Australia.

Although the coach wouldn't declare his intentions immediately after the game, it is understood Rugby Australia will launch a review into the failure of 2019 and a new coach will be appointed.

Cheika's legion of critics has grown in the latter stages of his five-year tenure not helped by his refusal to add a kicking dimension.

He has been adamant from game one of the tournament that Australia should adopt an all-out attack method, with little kicking in general play.

A dejected Wallabies captain and coach embrace after the heavy defeat to England. Pic: Getty

It was never convincing in pool play and backfired badly against England, with possession frequently turned over deep within their own territory, which the clinical winners feasted off.

Cheika refused to accept he had got it wrong.

"That is the way we play footy. I am not going to a kick-and-defend game," he said.

"Call me naive but that's not what I am doing. I would rather win playing our way, that's the way Aussies want us to play."

It has been a common refrain throughout the tournament, as has been Cheika's beef that teams have scored their tries through one-off methods such as intercepts.

That was the source of two of England's four tries on Saturday and Cheika said the final scoreline didn't reflect how competitive his team were.

The Wallabies' World Cup campaign ended in despair. Pic: Getty

"You could say it came down to a few key moments. Everything was pretty tight. We have come to the tournament and played, over the last two years, our best rugby.

"We've played a lot of attacking rugby, scored some good tries.

"As tends to happen to us sometimes, over the past few years, we go hard on the attack and sometimes we will encounter intercepts and dropped balls."

If there was tournament where Australia could play conservative rugby it was this one.

The Wallabies tight five more than held their own in the set pieces and, until the final quarter, arguably edged the vaunted English pack.

With AAP