Australian media rued their side’s “cruellest” exit from the Rugby World Cup on Sunday after Fiji squeezed past the Wallabies to reach the quarter-finals, despite a shock defeat to Portugal.
Two-time world champions Australia were knocked out even though Fiji crashed to an upset 24-23 defeat to the Portuguese, who enjoyed a maiden World Cup victory.
The result meant Australia finished third in Pool C, level on 11 points with Fiji, who advanced after beating the Wallabies earlier in the tournament.
The Australian and The Daily Telegraph both described Fiji’s narrow defeat as the “cruellest way possible” for the Wallabies to bow out of the World Cup.
Australian sports website The Roar branded the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign “a slow-motion car crash that spiralled out of control as their historic first pool exit was confirmed”.
Australia’s elimination adds to the pressure on head coach Eddie Jones.
Former Wallabies lock Peter FitzSimons said Rugby Australia took a risk in sacking New Zealander Dave Rennie as head coach in January and bringing back Jones, who coached Australia to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final.
“But the gamble has failed, and so have the Wallabies,” FitzSimons wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Rugby Australia is due to conduct a post-World Cup review into the stewardship of Jones, who has lost seven of his nine games in charge.
Former Wallabies centre Tim Horan said the board should stick with Jones.
“Let’s just let the emotion get out of this place in the next two or three weeks,” Horan told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“The important thing is, Eddie still has the confidence of the players,” added Horan, who based his opinion on visits to the Australian camp during the World Cup.
“It gives me great comfort to see this young team still want to go places.
“It’s just a shame they haven’t been able to show it. But, generally, we can’t keep changing the coach all the time when we lose Test matches.”
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