Rugby. France – Australia: why are the Wallabies no longer scary? . Sports

In September, the Wallabies hit rock bottom. After a setback to the wire against New Zealand (37-39) when they had the cards in hand to win, they fell to ninth place in the world, behind countries like Wales or England. ‘Scotland. Never, in its history, has Australian selection been so badly classified.

Half mast results

Since last week and his victory in Scotland (15-16), he has gained three places and is now in sixth place. Despite the good state of mind displayed at Murrayfield, evil still runs deep. Since the 2019 World Cup – where it was unceremoniously knocked out in the quarter-finals by England (40-16) – Australia has won just 12 of its 30 matches (15 losses and 3 draws). In August, the team of the irreplaceable James Slipper suffered the heaviest defeat in their history against Argentina (48-17).

Sometimes the Wallabies show signs of progress. As in the summer of 2021, against the very reworked French, they bagged the series (two wins to one). But their good results lacked continuity. At the back, they failed to confirm by conceding twice in a row against New Zealand.

During the 80 minutes of a match, the situation is similar: the Australians are capable of very good collective movement, to get the upper hand against their opponent, but lack the consistency to win. “Everyone knows we haven’t had enough consistency this year, admitted Captain James Slipper on Friday. This will be one of the keys for us. »

A limited workforce

This badness has been repeated since Dave Rennie took over in 2020. The coach is having a hard time really putting his foot down on this team. The former Glasgow Rangers manager has been fighting, among other things, the lack of renewal and reservoir of Australian rugby. After highlighting world-class players like David Pocock, Quade Cooper, or more recently, Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau, the Wallabies have struggled to produce players of this calibre.

Bernard Foley opened on Saturday against Scotland. © Photo: Andy Buchanan / AFP

The position of the opener is an obvious example. After the 2019 World Cup, young Noah Lolesio was thrown in at the deep end with the mission to succeed Bernard Foley. But the number 10 struggled to get the helm. To find a solution, Dave Rennie appealed to veterans James O’Connor (32 years old) and Quade Cooper (34 years old).

The first struggled to regain the sight of his debut, for the second – which returned after four years of absence from selection -, he ruptured his Achilles tendon in early August. His participation in the World Cup is in jeopardy. After this injury, the Wallabies coach was forced to go back to square one and trust Bernard Foley (33). Kubota player Spears, in Japan, will start against France this Saturday night.

Looking for executives

The Wallabies also lack executives. Since David Pocock retired after the 2019 World Cup, James Slipper, the most capped player in selection history, and Michael Hooper have acted as captains, amid a team in search of itself. The latter, tireless third line, left Australia for three months. Midway through this summer’s Rugby Championship, he announced he was leaving selection, without giving a return date, to keep “his sanity”he specified. “My whole career I’ve wanted to put the team first, but I feel like I can’t fulfill my responsibilities right now in my current state of mind. ».

He finally returned on Saturday, to Scotland, but without the armband. “Coming back makes me excited, he said last week, from Saint-Etienne, where the Australians settled for their autumn tour. I am realistic, there will be great days and days where the realities of travel, of rugby, will be difficult. It’s part of the journey, and doing what we do is definitely a roller coaster. »

For this tour, the Slipper – Hooper duo will be supported by the massive Will Skelton (2.05 m, 145 kg). The Stade Rochelais second line, 30, has not participated in a meeting with the Wallabies since November 2021. Maritime will try to bring all its experience and restore consistency to its team. Victory against the Blues, the world’s second-ranked nation behind Ireland, would be a huge step forward for him.

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