Wallabies Exposed In Final Rugby World Cup 2023 Rehearsal To Extend 5-Game Winless Streak

Zero wins from five but Eddie Jones is playing the long game.

Wallabies Exposed In Final Rugby World Cup 2023 Rehearsal To Extend 5-Game Winless Streak

Image: Getty

Australia fell 41-17 to France in their final fixture ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, to go winless in Eddie Jones’ opening five fixtures during his second stint in charge.

It wasn’t meant to go like this for Eddie Jones during his second spell in Australia.

The former England boss arrived as Australia’s saviour following one of the worst seasons in history during the final year of Dave Rennie’s reign. However, the Wallabies haven’t won since Jones took over in January of this year, losing their opening five fixtures in the buildup to the Rugby World Cup in France.

Rather tellingly, the Wallabies’ final rehearsal with the host nation was deemed a “practice match” by Jones; most likely in an attempt to soften the blow of an imminent France demolition.

Yet, as the final whistle blew in France’s national stadium, Jones was staring at zero wins from an opening five fixtures, and the notion that this loss was any less significant because it was just a “practice” will likely be difficult for Australia’s fans to take heading into the World Cup without a single win.

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones claimed their final game ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup was just a “practice match.” Image: Getty

On paper, the gap between the two teams is clear, but three tries to France’s four doesn’t necessarily warrant the ringing of alarm bells just yet. Had Australia demonstrated more of a clinical edge in attack, this might have been a different discussion.

Jones admitted he’d seen enough in a packed-out Stade de France to suggest that this team in transition is starting to show improvements. But when the Wallabies return to this stadium in two weeks’ time for the opening World Cup fixture, a much-improved performance is required if they’re to have any chance of exiting the group.

“The results haven’t been good… It hasn’t been good enough. I’m not hiding away from that but we do have a longer-term plan in terms of the World Cup and that’s what we’re here for.”

Eddie Jones

Ultimately, self-inflicted mistakes cost the travelling Wallabies side.

The misfiring boot of Carter Gordon was left exposed, skewing his first three kicks while France’s Thomas Ramos found the posts six times to take the game beyond Australia.

Individual errors and fouls allowed France to control the game from start to finish, with a largely inexperienced Wallabies team copping a heavy 41-17 defeat on the eve of the world’s biggest competition.

“Eddie’s doing his best for us but we’re just letting ourselves down out there,” said captain Tate McDermott. “We have two weeks to find a solution against Georgia because they’re a bloody good side so we need to make sure we front there.”

Suli Vunivalu was a highlight for Australia on the wing. Image: Getty

This wasn’t just about Australia, however. This was a statement of intent from the host nation, laying down a significant marker ahead of a historic home World Cup.

The French XV delivered when it mattered, but the 80,000-strong crowd, whose deafening support was constant throughout the 80 minutes, only served as a welcomed reminder to the rest of the competition: France is playing to win.

“He looks like he’s ready to play at the highest level.”

Eddie Jones on Suli Vunivalu

Standout performances from wingers Suli Vunivalu and Mark Nawaqanitawase were a rare highlight throughout the game, with Vunivalu’s physical presence a focal point for the Wallabies’ creators in attack.

Jones will need to capitalise on their unique talents if they’re to have any run in the upcoming tournament in France, but the Australian coach has admitted he’s been impressed by his new player.

“We’ve got more players improving than declining,” said Jones. “Suli is one. At Super Rugby [Pacific] level, he couldn’t blow a candle out. And at Test level, he scored one good try [and] could have scored a couple more. He looks like he’s ready to play at the highest level.”

The Wallabies start their World Cup campaign against Georgia on Sunday 10 September at 2:00am AEST.