Rugby World Cup 2023 day 12 highlights
Australia’s shellshocked players spent Monday trying to protect Eddie Jones from the blowback from their disastrous World Cup campaign. Jones is in the firing line after a calamitous nine months in charge which have brought just one win in eight games and has been forced to deny reports he had already opened talks with Japan about a post-World Cup switch.
But rookie stand-off Carter Gordon insists they are still behind the former England coach. “As far as the players know, Eddie is committed to Rugby Australia. Look, we know he is committed to us and we are committed to him,” said Gordon.
“It’s on us the players, we are the ones out there. We are the ones playing. Eddie has done everything he can to put us in the right position to win and then it is on us to win the games.”
Jones, who is normally an expressionless mask during a game, put his hands to his face in horror in Lyon on Sunday evening when Carter, on as a second-half substitute against Wales, kicked a penalty dead trying to set up an attacking lineout.
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If ever there was a moment which summed up a calamitous night for the Wallabies and for their World Cup in general it was that. In fairness to Carter there were plenty of other dark moments to choose from.
While Australia have one game remaining against Portugal and could mathematically still qualify for the quarter-finals, the reality is that defeats against Fiji and Wales have left them packing their suitcases and facing up to their failure to reach the knockout stages of a World Cup for the first time.
The 40-6 defeat to Wales was their heaviest at a World Cup. “It’s a result we’re going to have to live with,” said scrum-half Tate McDermott. “We’ve not only let the people from Australia down in the crowd who supported us, but there’s heaps of other people out there who have supported us back home as well.
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“It wasn’t good enough and we’ve got to own that. It’s a resilient group but it’s not good enough in a do-or die-game. There’s nowhere to run now. It’s very hard to defend the whole team for that performance.”
Jones, the hoped-for messiah, has paid a heavy price for his foolishness in leaving out experienced figures like Michael Hooper for the tournament but even with the roof falling in on him he remains unrepentant.
“I am a proud Australian, I hate to see Australian rugby do as poorly as we have been doing, particularly under my reign. But I was put in this job to turn Australia around. I don’t think I could have done it with the players that had been playing. I think we needed a fresh change,” he said.
“Sure, young guys struggled in the environment against Wales but unless they get that experience they are not going to mature into the players they can be. This is the most painful time, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also the best learning time for young players.”
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