Fiji defeated Australia 22-15 for the first time in 69 years and sent a jolt of joy rippling through the Rugby World Cup today. Here’s how the world reacted:
Eddie Jones, Wallabies coach
“They outplayed us at the ruck,” Wallabies coach Eddie Jones said. “For some reason we were just off today. We were a poor version of ourselves. There is some soul-searching to do and it makes the Wales game pretty important.”
Inept Australia outwitted, outfought and outclassed by fantastic Fiji
Daniel Gallan, The Guardian
Australia lacked cohesion and composure. They’d follow up a slick move down the line with an aimless kick to no one. A swift steal on the ground would precede a knock-on. A dominant carry would come to nothing as the necessary support at the ruck failed to arrive.
Once they managed to string together a series of successful plays. Around the 23rd-minute mark, Richie Arnold pinched the ball. Sure, he was on the ground and off his feet, but Andrew Brace, the referee, waved play on so Nic White hoofed a monstrous kick that took an awkward bounce and bobbled out for a stunning 50-22. Mark Nawaqanitawase then wrestled the ball free and played a quick lineout for Samu Kerevi on the gallop. The centre wasn’t beyond the five metre line, but Brace waved play on so he popped pass for Nawaqanitawase before the winger crashed over for a try.
Maybe Jones was right all along. Maybe those five defeats in the build up to the World Cup meant nothing. Maybe their poor discipline – which saw them concede 18 penalties to Fiji’s seven – wouldn’t hurt them in the long run. Jones said his team was one that would be defined by moments rather than a clear strategy or identity. Chaos would be their guiding light. And, with a little help from the officials, they had their moment to lay down a marker.
Wallabies need to look hard at themselves
Simon Smale, ABC News
A massive result for Fiji, just a third ever victory over Australia in a Test match and first since 1954 at the SCG.
69 years of hurt for Fiji, who have fought their way back into contention to qualify from this most difficult to call of all the World Cup pools.
Australia has just over a week to regroup, because on the horizon is a previously unbeaten Wales team who can wrap up qualification with a win.
The Wallabies though, will be fighting for their lives.
Wallabies’ World Cup campaign in crisis
Tom Decent, Sydney Morning Herald
The Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup campaign is in crisis after the men in gold suffered the country’s first loss to Fiji in 69 years in their second pool match in France.
As far as spectacularly bad Wallabies performances go, this was right up there, as thousands of Australian fans in gold jerseys who’d travelled to France sat in disbelief watching their team capitulate in remarkable fashion.
An injury ravaged Wallabies side, without captain Will Skelton (calf), prop Taniela Tupou (hamstring) and halfback Tate McDermott (concussion), went down 22-15 to Fiji and are now facing the prospect of being eliminated in the group stages of a Rugby World Cup for the first time ever.
Fiji shock Australia in biggest upset of 2023 Rugby World Cup
Ben Coles and Cameron Henderson, The Telegraph UK
No heartache for Fiji this week. They were the better side in Saint Etienne by some distance, a sign not only of their remarkable growth in a short space of time this year under Simon Raiwalui but also how the Wallabies have dramatically fallen.
Levani Botia and Josua Tuisova, their superstars, more than lived up to the billing, relentless over the ball at the breakdown as Australia’s attacks turned to dust. Fiji’s game against Wales might have ended in heartbreaking fashion with Semi Radradra’s late spill but there was only joy here, pairing their usual flair with improved game management and set-piece.
The Wallabies meanwhile are absolutely desperate. Having only beaten Georgia this year, they now have to beat Wales in Lyon next week to have a hope of not becoming the first Australia side to miss the knockout stages, which in turn could put Wales’ place in the quarter-finals in jeopardy. Hooking their young fly-half Carter Gordon on 50 minutes, after he had been at fault for Tuisova’s try, was a damning statement from Eddie Jones.
Fijian Home Affairs Minister signs off on Casual Monday
Daniel Garb, ABC Sport
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