‘I take umbrage’: Jones fires up after Wallabies’ humiliating loss

Wallabies slump to historic loss

Coach Eddie Jones has taken responsibility for Australian rugby’s darkest hour, after a record loss to Wales all but sent the Wallabies packing from the World Cup in France.

The Wallabies hit a new low under Jones in Lyon on Monday (AEST), thrashed 40-6 by Wales, their biggest defeat in tournament history.

The Australians needed victory over their unbeaten pool rivals on Sunday (Monday AEST). Instead, they will miss the quarter-finals for the first time, heading home before many fans have even arrived in France.

The embarrassing defeat capped a dramatic day with a report emerging that Jones had already interviewed for the Japan coaching role with an eye on departing Australia, despite four years to run on his contract.

The report and the humiliating loss have spurred calls for a dramatic shake-up in Australian rugby.

At the after-match media briefing, Jones was terse when quizzed on the Japan reports.

“I take umbrage at the questioning – people questioning my commitment to coaching Australia. I have been working non-stop since I came here, and I apologise for the result. I keep saying that,” he said.

“But to question my commitment to the job is a bit red-hot, so we are not going to deal with those questions any further. I am happy to talk about Wales, I am happy to talk about Portugal. If you want to keep going down that line, I will excuse myself.”

Rugby Australia boss Phil Waugh said Jones had denied he was in talks with Japan. Post-match, Jones insisted he was 100 per cent committed to the Wallabies.

“While it looks at the moment like it’s a shambles, I can guarantee you its not. There are things afoot that will help change Australian rugby, which is not for me to talk about, but for other people in Australian rugby to talk about,” he said.

“I have to coach the team better, there is no doubt about that. That’s not good enough tonight. I am responsible for that.”

Captain Dave Porecki was even more direct, when asked for his message for Wallabies’ fans.

“We apologise,” he said.

“We let ourselves down, we let Australians down, but we will bounce back and shift our focus to next week, and earn respect back through our performance. It wasn’t good enough tonight. Everyone is gutted.”

Jones also apologised to Australian supporters and said his young team were shattered by the loss, with some in tears after fulltime.

“We’ve got a young team and they’re very disappointed, they tried their hearts out but at the moment we just don’t have the consistency in our play to put pressure on teams like Wales,” he said.

Jones was hailed as a messiah when he returned to the Wallabies job this year on a deal taking him through until the end of the 2027 World Cup on home soil. But the abrasive coach has now lost 15 of his last 17 Tests as Wallabies coach over his two stints in charge of Australia.

His decision to leave the likes of veterans Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper at home while blooding young players has been met with stinging criticism.

Ireland Test great Rob Kearney described the Wallabies as “outrageously poorly coached” on Irish broadcaster Virgin, and said Jones’ tendency to burn through his support staff must have had an effect.

Dual international Sonny Bill Williams said Jones faced a tall order to get players back onside with the team’s World Cup campaign in tatters.

“If I’m a player, I’m not following a guy that’s having a meeting with another national team, potentially looking for another job, days before you’re hopping on the plane to come to this World Cup,” Williams told Stan Sport.

Poor decisions and bizarre choices cost game

The Wallabies were looking to rebound from their ugly defeat by Fiji in their last pool game. But they were again let down by poor decision-making and ill-discipline, racking up 12 penalties for the night.

It was highlighted by a bizarre decision not to take a penalty kick from in front of the posts, which would have closed the gap to 9-10. Instead they went for a line-out, which they lost.

Welsh flanker Jac Morgan grabbed the loose ball and booted a 50-22 and then the Wallabies gave away a penalty themselves, with Gareth Anscombe slotting a penalty for his team to lead 13-6.

Anscombe replaced star Welsh play-maker Dan Biggar, who was forced off after 12 minutes with a pectoral injury, and finished with a personal points tally of 23 points, including six penalty goals.

The Australians got off to the worst possible start, with Gareth Davies scoring after three minutes after a break by Morgan.

Anscombe kept the scoreboard ticking over for Wales to take a 16-6 lead into halftime.

Halfback Tate McDermott did his best to spark the attack but the combination with new five-eighth Ben Donaldson didn’t really click while Australia’s set-piece failed to fire, particularly in the second half.

The death knell sounded for the men in gold in the 47th minute when Anscombe noticed the Wallabies had no one defending at fullback and chipped over the top for centre Nick Tompkins to score.

Wales continued the onslaught amid 33 unanswered points to lock in their play-off berth.

The Wallabies still have one more pool match to play against Portugal in Saint-Etienne next week. However, barring a miracle that requires Fiji to lose both its remaining games without bonus points against Georgia and Portugal, they will then bow out of the 2023 World Cup.

-with AAP

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