The Wallabies have been panned for their latest effort against Argentina, while there are unenthusiastic reviews for new coach Dave Rennie.
If beleaguered Aussie rugby thought it might get a few charitable assessments in a Covid-19 wrecked year, it needed to think again with the Wallabies season rated a dud.
The 16-all result against Argentina – the Wallabies’ third draw in six tests this year – placed them last in the Tri-Nations and they have been ripped apart in their press.
About the only person to get a great review was schoolgirl anthem singer Olivia Fox, after a joint-language rendition which appears to have stirred the nation.
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Tom Decent said: “The Wallabies have once again ended their year on a depressing and sour note, drawing with Argentina in all too similar fashion as Reece Hodge once again missed a late penalty attempt.”
“In Wellington and Newcastle, Hodge had long-range kicks to win tests for Australia this year but missed on both occasions.
“Incredibly, it happened a third time and while he cannot be blamed given the degree of difficulty, it sums up the Wallabies’ year as they finish 2020 with yet another average result.”
Decent pointed to the “red card on Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, ill discipline and terrible tackling” as the reasons the Wallabies did not deserve victory anyway.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper admitted to a “hollow feeling” after the draw but suggested there was still good work going on.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 5, 2020
But Decent described the test as “dour as the 15-15 result in Newcastle a fortnight ago”.
They had a week to freshen up and “there were no excuses to not put in a scintillating performance”.
“The Wallabies will want to erase the game from the memory bank. It was very 2020,” he wrote.
Sam Phillips, also in the SMH, said the Wallabies season of one win, three draws and two losses, could be “sliced and diced two ways.”
The lost opportunities, via Hodge’s late goalkicking misses, suggested a decent year for a young and inexperienced post-World Cup squad. He found good potential in the backs, from players new and old. The scrum was becoming strong, and a couple of forwards like lock Matt Philip were showing good signs.
“But without the gold-coloured glasses, there are some harsh realities Rennie and his coaching staff will undoubtedly confront over the summer,” he wrote.
“Their attack in both matches against Argentina was stale. The lineout is still prone to errors.
“A world-class hooker, lock, fullback and enforcer in the back row are still required.
“And the defensive showing (in two tests) against the All Blacks was disastrous. One win from six tests hasn’t been the sharpest of starts.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 5, 2020
Wayne Smith, in The Australian, wrote “the Wallabies limped to a 16-all draw with an understrength Argentina in a miserable finish to the Tri Nation’s rugby tournament”.
Michael Hooper’s driving maul try “was the sum total of what Australia would recall from this horrendous match”.
“Conditions were bad, true…but this was a performance that sent Dave Rennie’s team almost back to where it started from.”
“In fact, maybe worse, because the Wallabies played excellent rugby in the first test of the new era (the draw in Wellington).
“The handling was appalling…Australia’s discipline was terrible.
“The tragedy was that a dreadful performance by Australia followed one of the great national anthems ever performed at a rugby international. It felt like history in the making.
“Sadly, while the Wallabies knew their lines for the anthem, they were fumbling about when the whistle blew.”
In ESPN’s scrum.com, Sam Bruce wrote Rennie’s record so far “leaves Australian rugby supporters with more questions than answers as to whether the Kiwi’s tenure will be any better than that of his predecessor Michael Cheika.
The problem areas, of mistakes, ill-discipline and missed opportunities, were hallmarks of the Cheika era.
“The Wallabies have issues on the attacking side of the ball and need to unearth further ball-carrying threats,” he said.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now