Eddie Jones, Will Skelton and Carter Gordon talked about a lot of subjects after their first open training session, ahead of their first World…
I was seven years old when the Wallabies won the Rugby World Cup in 1999 and I was 11 years old when we went agonisingly close in 2003. In that four-year stretch, the Wallabies held a winning record over the All Blacks, the Brumbies won the Super Rugby Championship in 2001 (and again in 2004), and put simply, I was on top of the world!
I remember saying to my Grandpa “How good’s this, the Wallabies always win”. My Mum would later tell me that he looked at me with a sheepish grin, later telling her that I had no idea about the heartache previous Wallabies fans have had to endure. Unfortunately, I have endured that heartache plenty since I was that naïve young Wallabies fan.
Eddie Jones has acknowledged that the Wallabies have been below satisfactory in recent memory, with only 12 victories from 33 matches since 2021 but with all that being said, I still hold faith that the Wallabies can hold aloft the William Webb Ellis trophy in October later this year.
Yes, I’m an optimist. Yes, I might be naïve… but if you’ll indulge me, I have 3 key reasons why I think the Wallabies can win the World Cup.
The pools for the World Cup were drawn more than a year out from the World Cup and before our slide down the rankings. As a result, we’ve landed in a pool with Wales and Fiji and we’re on the side of a finals schedule that will see us play Argentina or England in the Quarter Finals. In other words, assuming we progress either first or second in our pool, the highest ranked team we can expect to play is Argentina (6th).
Admittedly, Argentina has improved immensely under Michael Cheika and England can always pull out a good performance (albeit a dour one), but in the scheme of who we’d rather face in the Quarter Finals, it doesn’t really get much better.
Following on from our good fortune, this allows timing to come into play. The first game of the World Cup for the Wallabies is Georgia, who are certainly not the ‘easybeats’ they once were. This fixture shapes as an important match where the Wallabies should be expected to win and find some form before their intriguing matchup with Fiji.
Similar to Argentina, Fiji are much improved thanks to their superstars in the French leagues and the familiarity they’re building in the Super Rugby Competition. But again, the Wallabies are a better team than Fiji and this difficult match-up shapes as one that can consolidate the gains from the Georgia match.
Before our last pool match against Portugal… which in fearful honesty, presents itself as an opportunity to rest some key players, the match-up against Wales can become a final opportunity to sharpen our iron before progressing to the Quarter Finals where we have a reasonable chance of winning.
Once we’re in the Semi-Finals, it’s anyone’s game and it’s where the last factor can come into play.
Eddie Jones is a storied coach with well known success at the World Cup. On top of this, he has a young group of malleable players who in my opinion, should be riding a wave of momentum with 5 World Cup wins to negate the 5 losses he’s experienced thus far.
A red-hot young team that’s been prepared for World Cup Rugby, with a strategist in the form of Eddie Jones shapes as a dangerous proposition for any team in the world, and whilst inexperience in the playing group might yield cracks under pressure, similar to that young Wallabies fan at the turn of the century, this naivety might allow for some incredibly rugby.
Regardless of the outcome, this World Cup shapes as the most exciting World Cup I can remember, with any one of 8 teams expected to have a shot. Personally, I’m hopeful for Australia (obviously), but I’m genuinely excited to see the French dazzle the world, the All Blacks to perform as they usually do, and the Boks to literally bash down the door for a back-to-back triumph… but I’m expecting a lot of upsets along the way.