Australia faces Wales… and its destiny

Beaten by Fiji in the last match (15-22), the Wallabies are obliged to win against Wales on Sunday in Lyon (9 p.m.) to maintain the hope of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

The equation is simple for Australia. She must beat Wales on Sunday in Lyon (9 p.m.) to keep her destiny in hand and hope to get out of Group D of the World Cup. “We have to win, period“, proclaims second row Richie Arnold. A defeat would condemn the Wallabies to hope for a misstep from Fiji against Georgia or against Portugal. A rather unlikely scenario given the performance last Sunday in Saint-Etienne of the “Flying Fijians”, winners… from Australia (22-15).

It had been 70 years since the men of the Pacific had defeated their yellow-clad neighbors. “This morning when I woke up, I hoped that the result would have changed, but no», Despaired Eddie Jones the day after the meeting. The former England manager notes that “the game was out of whack for the first 30 minutes of the match“. And no doubt he has been there for a little longer.

Read alsoRugby World Cup: Wales face Australia with the same as against Fiji

Booed by the French public behind Fiji, Eddie Jones took full responsibility for the defeat and would have “probably deserved more. They should throw baguettes and croissants at me. I deserve everything I get.»

One victory in seven matches

Since January 15, the date he returned to duty at the head of the national team after a first stint between 2001 and 2005, the Wallabies have won only one of their seven matches: against Georgia ( 35-15), for their entry into the World Cup. This enhanced success, during which Will Skelton’s gang ultimately didn’t show much, served as a smoke screen. Australian rugby is sick.

And Wales, certainly not in royal form, will not be asked to press where it hurts. “We will try to build on our strengths and put them under pressure as much as possibleexplains Alex King, istant coach of the XV du Poireau. If we manage to perfectly master all facets of our game, discipline, precision, static phases, we will become very difficult to beat.»

Read alsoRugby World Cup: Australia under maximum tension despite Eddie Jones

Among their “strong points”, the Welsh include Dan Biggar, the famous fly-half whose skill against the poles could be very damaging if Australia were to be penalized as much as against Fiji. No fewer than 18 penalties conceded! “We really need to improve on discipline and ground play“, proclaims Eddie Jones. Center Samu Kerevi agrees, “you can’t give so many points to a great scorer“. Already injured during the last match, second row Will Skelton and right pillar Taniela Tupou will not be restored in time. A real loss of power for the Wallabies who, without these two executives, suffered the physical impact of the Fijians.

Gordon replaced at opening

The Australians seem to be sailing by sight, unsure of their strengths, with a young fly-half, Carter Gordon (22), lacking confidence. “Everyone suffers, not just Carter», ures Samu Kerevi, as a good teammate. Against the Welsh, Jones prefers to start Ben Donaldson, fullback who, replaced in number 10 during the match against Fiji, had animated the Australian game well.

Read alsoRugby World Cup: “I’m not popular here but that doesn’t bother me” jokes Eddie Jones

This considerably rejuvenated group, the youngest since 1995, is looking for leaders. “We are building a team for the future and we will go through difficult timesexplains the coach. I think Australian rugby needs a younger team. I am prepared to suffer to leave Australia with a team capable of playing well in the World Cup.»

The team will undoubtedly reach maturity for the 2027 World Cup. In the meantime, the baby Australians are keen to spare the nation the ridicule of a group outing. Which has… never happened in history. And the motivation is there. Hooker David Porecki believes he is “easy» to get back in the saddle before challenging the Welsh, “because it’s a World Cup match“.

The pressure must nevertheless have been great in recent days on Australian shoulders. But Eddie Jones affirms: “It’s the best week ever for the coaches and the players. It’s these weeks that we remember later, when we are under a lot of pressure, with the obligation to achieve a good performance.»

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