Wallabies assistant coach turns on team after embarrassing history at World Cup

Pierre-Henry Broncan worked under Eddie Jones during the ill-fated campaign at the Rugby World Cup.

Wallabies assistant coach Pierre-Henry Broncan.
Pierre-Henry Broncan criticised the Wallabies on a number of fronts. Image: Getty

Wallabies assistant coach Pierre-Henry Broncan has criticised the work ethic of Australian-based players in the World Cup squad, while also saying Eddie Jones' coaching strategy didn't work. Broncan, who was formerly the coach of Top 14 club Castres in France, worked with Jones in preparing the young Wallabies squad for the tournament.

The team became the first in Wallabies history to exit a World Cup in the group stage after losing games to Fiji and Wales. Speaking to French sports newspaper L'Equipe on Wednesday, Broncan said the work ethic and attitude of Australian-based Wallabies was lacking compared to those based in Europe.

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"The team's youth did not work at this World Cup, it did not lack experience but collective experience," he said. "We saw the players who play in France, Will Skelton and Richie Arnold, had a much greater work ethic than the players who are in Australia.

"They are not used to working under pressure, to maintaining precision and concentration. They are used to working at high intensity, that's not the problem, but it's the precision that's lacking. Tactically too, there are very few tacticians."

Broncan echoed Jones' sentiments that injuries suffered by Skelton and prop Taniela Tupou in the lead-up to the Fiji game were incredibly costly. "We lost the World Cup the week we lost Tupou and Skelton. Our scrum and pack were much worse without them," he said.

"These two players were not replaced by players of the same quality. If at least one of them had been there, I think we would have beaten Fiji."

Eddie Jones and Pierre-Henry Broncan.
Eddie Jones (second from left) and Pierre-Henry Broncan (far right). (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

The Frenchman added to the criticism of Jones' training tactics and said Skelton and Tupou were mismanaged, while also saying Jones' experiment of bringing in assistant coaches from rugby league and Australian rules football failed. But he said Jones still remained Australia's best chance of putting together a competitive team for 2027, if he was given the sort of backing France coach Fabien Galthie has enjoyed over the last four years.

"There's no time to lose," he said. "The French had four years to build a group. They have been preparing for this World Cup for four years. Australia must take a cue from this.

"Eddie is a competitor. If he doesn't have the means or if he feels that things will continue as before, it will be hard for him to stay. If he senses a real desire from Rugby Australia to create a high-performance environment, I think he will be there."

Jason Ryles and Eddie Jones at a Wallabies training session.
Former NRL player Jason Ryles was part of Eddie Jones' Wallabies coaching staff. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Eddie Jones in new links to Japan Rugby coaching job

Jones' future as Wallabies coach is under a cloud. Many have called for him to be sacked, and there are fresh reports linking him to the vacant Japan job.

Japan sports website Sponichi reported this week that Jones is still the leading candidate to take over from Jamie Joseph, who stepped down following the Brave Blossoms' own early exit from the World Cup. "Current Australian national team coach Eddie Jones is expected to return as the successor to Joseph," the report states.

"This spring, Masato Tsuchida, president of the Japan Association, with whom he has had a honeymoon relationship since his days at Suntory, contacted him. Contract negotiations have been held privately behind the scenes, and preparations are underway for (his) return (for the first time) since the 2015 World Cup, which led them to a historic three wins.

"The Australian team at this tournament is at a historic low, and there are growing voices questioning Jones' ability. Last month, it was reported that he had an online meeting with the (Japan Rugby Football Union) before the tournament, which sparked criticism. He denies this, and the Australian Association (Rugby Australia) has also issued a statement supporting his continued participation until the 2027 (World Cup), raising the possibility that a return to Japan may be a deal-breaker."

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