Australian rugby 'plunged back into the darkness'
WORLD CUP REACTION: Australian rugby has been “plunged back into the darkness” by their “humiliating” quarterfinal World Cup exit, domestic media said Sunday, with calls for coach Michael Cheika to be quickly replaced.
The Wallabies were thumped by their old enemy England 16-40, in what the Sydney Daily Telegraph called “a flogging”.
It was a bitter end for eight squad members who are either moving to overseas clubs next year or retiring, including centurions Will Genia and Sekope Kepu, along with flank David Pocock and centre Samu Kerevi.
Cheika, who narrowly avoided the axe after a horror season last year in which the side won just four of 13 Tests, is also set to go.
His contract expires at the end of the year and he has previously indicated he would not be reapplying for his job if they failed to win the World Cup, although he hedged his bets after the match, instead appealing for “compassion”.
The Telegraph said he had taken the Wallabies backwards, with his planning “exposed as a failure” in a World Cup campaign that was never convincing.
“Michael Cheika’s stubbornness, aligned with indecision and lack of faith in his players has seen the Wallabies reduced to a rabble,” rugby writer Jamie Pandaram said.
Fox Sports Australia was equally damning, saying “passion without intelligence seems destined to be the hallmark of Cheika’s reign”.
The Sydney Morning Herald joined the chorus calling for his head, with Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie, a New Zealander, seen as among the frontrunners to replace him.
“The Wallabies coach should resign in coming days to clear the decks for the rebuild,” the newspaper said.
“This group of players are better than their results. But this Wallabies season has had the feel of a constant experiment. The future could yet be bright in the right hands.”
Eddie Jones’ England outscored Australia four tries to one, with the Wallabies running themselves into trouble as they constantly tried to exit their territory with ball in hand.
It extended England’s winning run over Australia to seven matches, earning them an enticing semifinal against the All Blacks.
The Australian broadsheet’s Wayne Smith called England “smarter, more clinical”.
“As suddenly as switching off the lights, Australian rugby was plunged back into darkness,” he said, blasting Cheika’s “fuzzy plans and slipshod execution”.
“For all the passion he brought to the Wallabies coaching job, he brought no real order to their game, no tight framework they could fall back onto when England began to apply the screws,” added Smith.