The Wallabies looked to atone somewhat for their abysmal year so far when they played Wales in Cardiff, given they had won the last 13 straight against the men in red. However, poor decision making and a bad case of the drops saw Wales finally get one over Australia, in a game that was there for the taking.
Both sides were as poor in attack as the 9-6 score line suggests, although the Wallabies had slightly more chances. Samu Kerevi dropped a chance early under pressure, and later in the match captain Michael Hooper turned down several easy penalty kicks in favour of going for a try – but the Welsh stood firm.
In the end poor decision making by the Wallabies all but handed Wales the win – although to the Australian’s credit their defence held firm. The loss will only increase pressure on coach Michael Cheika, and it looks as if the lack of any viable alternative as coach is all that is keeping him in his job.
The national rugby union team have now lost 8 out of 11 matches this year and are attracting comparisons to the men’s cricket team – who at least have the excuse of three of their best players being unavailable.
The Wallabies will take on Italy next weekend before facing England the week after, and will at the very least need a big win over the Italians and a good showing against England to avoid attracting even more public criticism.
With the World Cup due to take place next October the national team could hardly be in a worse position, especially given they came 2nd 3 years ago. Cheika has already announced that he will leave the Wallabies after the tournament unless they win, and given that that looks about as likely as Scott Morrison adding solar panels to his roof Rugby Australia will surely be tempted to accelerate their search.
By far the most successful coach of the last decade was Robbie Deans, who is now coaching in Japan, although he may still be understandably bitter about his treatment by Australia’s board and fans. Barring him Jake White may be interested, as he applied for the job in 2014 when Cheika was hired.
White won a world cup with South Africa, but his teams tend to lack the lack the entertainment factor Australian’s expect. What is clear is that Cheika’s succession plan is very unlikely to be followed, and his nominated replacement Stephen Larkham will be lucky to retain a job in the new regime (if one is implemented).