World Cup 2023: Chaotic journey reflects Australian rugby’s struggles |  TV5MONDE

World Cup 2023: Chaotic journey reflects Australian rugby’s struggles | TV5MONDE

The poor performance of the Wallabies, who have been effectively eliminated from the 2023 World Cup, reflects the deep crisis hitting Australian rugby, which combines poor sporting performance with economic hardship.

For the first time in its history, Australia, two-time world champions (1991, 1999), has a good chance of exiting in the group stage.

The Wallabies doubled down on their poor performances in this World Cup: the defeat to Fiji (22-15) and above all the historic defeat to Wales (40-6). After the historic victory over Portugal (34-14), their fate depends only on a miracle from these same Portuguese against Fiji on Sunday.

“It is time for a complete review of Australian Rugby and its entire management and staff,” says David Campisi, a former star winger of the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2003, as the country was about to be crowned champion on home soil, the country benefited from the commercial and cultural success of this World Cup.

The final between Australia and England in Sydney remains one of the most watched events in the country since data collection began in 2001.

Eddie Jones slammed

Australia and Marika Koroibete (right) beat Portugal on Sunday at the World Cup in Saint-Etienne

France Press agency

Twenty years later in France, Eddie Jones, the coach who actually led the Wallabies in 2003 before his departure in 2005, is at the center of the criticism.

The 63-year-old found himself at the center of controversy when the Sydney Morning Herald reported that he secretly interviewed for the Japan coach position just before the World Cup.

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Allegations denied by the coach.

The coach who replaced New Zealander Dave Rennie, who was sacked in January, was criticized for selecting only young players and leaving executives such as Michael Hooper or Quade Cooper in the country. With the stated goal of preparing for the 2027 World Cup organized in Australia.

“It’s not just the Wallabies that need improvement, it’s the entire Australian rugby system that needs to,” Eddie Jones said.

He added: “It’s not an excuse but we need to do some deep reflection to see what we do and how we play rugby.”

He concluded: “I have no doubt about what I have done, and even if it seems chaotic, I assure you it is not.”

The Australian debacle in France highlighted deep-rooted issues such as the decline of practice and the decline in popularity of Super Rugby, with the competition mainly between New Zealand and Australian provinces.

The Australians, who are dominated by New Zealand teams, have not won a title in nine years, and their salary cap has been reduced compared to rugby league and Australian rules football, the country’s two dominant team sports.

“Australian rugby should focus primarily on Super Rugby,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said after the win over the Wallabies.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure where Australian Rugby is going in terms of trying to create continuity between the national team and the Super Rugby teams,” he added.

Structural changes

Attracting and retaining talent is a struggle for the Australian Football Association, which has considered returning to amateur status after being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“We need money…to keep young people,” says former center Tim Horan, who was present during the 1991 and 1999 coronation ceremonies.

Australia coach Eddie Jones on Sunday in Saint-Etienne

France Press agency

He explained: “We need to focus on keeping talented children in (rugby) schools, to expand our player base and retain the best young people.”

FA president Hamish McLennan believes the World Cup in France showed Australian rugby should take inspiration from countries like Ireland with a centralized system, and put an end to the current federal model, favored by the size of the territory.

“In Australia, rugby has a very similar model to the federal government. For sport, it’s ineffective,” he told Australia’s Financial Review.

“We have been talking about structural changes for several years. We must seize the opportunity and solve the problem once and for all,” he said.

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