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'They should be throwing baguettes at me': Eddie Jones digests Australia's loss to Fiji

By Ben Smith
Ben Donaldson of Australia looks dejected at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones says he takes “full responsibility” for Australia’s first loss to Fiji since 1954 but doesn’t regret rolling the dice with a young team.

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Australia were met by a physical and firing Fiji outfit who played patient rugby and capitalised on Wallabies’ mistakes through the boot of halfback Simione Kuruvoli who kicked four long-range penalties to take a 12-8 half-time lead.

The Fijian pack stood up at set-piece time and found dominance over Australia, pressuring them at the breakdown as the match wore on in the second half. Fiji were able to repel multiple possessions late which sealed the 22-15 win.

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Jones was at a loss to understand why his team were flat in the opening stages and pointed to the slow start as a key reason contributing to the loss.

“We are doing our absolute best, I apologise, it’s my fault,” Jones said when asked of his message to the Australian fans, “I take full responsibility for it.”

The Wallabies were hit with injuries to key forwards Taniela Tupou and captain Will Skelton in the lead-up to the game, but Jones wasn’t prepared to blame the loss of his two star forwards.

However, it was Australia’s inability to win the gain line that cost them according to Jones as Fiji’s defence held strong and went hard at the breakdown forcing a number of penalties.

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“We can’t blame the loss on Tupou and Skelton not being there. We’ve got to be good enough to go without them,” he said.

“The penalties… when you aren’t on the front foot it’s quite easy to give away penalties.

“So I’m not worried about our discipline, I’m worried about our ability to get on the front foot. Any game of rugby you’ve got to get on the front foot.”

The Wallabies were able to score the first try after some quick thinking by Mark Nawaqanitawase after a Nic White 50-22. The quick throw to Kerevi ended with a return ball and a try.

But Fiji’s clinical execution at the core areas of the game kept them ahead in the arm wrestle.

“We just couldn’t get one part of game going, if we were able to get our maul going that could have changed the game, but we couldn’t get that going,” Jones summarised.

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“We didn’t get any ascendency in the scrum, they beat us at the breakdown, so that was the difficult thing about it.”

The Wallabies head coach was blunt when asked about the hostile reception from the local crowd who booed whenever the head coach popped on the big screen.

“I’m a bit used to it mate, and after that I probably deserve a bit more,” Jones quipped.

“They should be throwing, what do they throw here, baguettes, croissants at me. It’s not good enough so I deserve whatever I get mate.”

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Comments

9 Comments
D
Dermot 306 days ago

The sooner we squish the Sydney-Brisvegas axis is Australian rugby the better.

D
Dermot 306 days ago

Fiji has clearly benefited greatly from their participation in Super Rugby.

h
h 306 days ago

carter gordon’s personality was misjudged. eddie wanted him to be the hard bastard aussie that we used to generate and rely on but he’s not that guy. he might bounce back but it will have to be with the rebels. ben donaldson is a joke and probably wouldn’t make the wales squad. you can’t expect to be dominant with nervous, unconfident 10s. but eddies biggest blunder was not allowing quade to take the emotional responsibility off gordon. gordon looked good when he wasn’t holding up the sails alone. and ben is just a snake archetype. he’ll slither in and ‘save the day’’ but he’ll be forgotten and return to the wildness after this.
michael hooper and pete samu would have been handy in that game also. i want to like eddie because i think it’s good to have enigmatic people in our sport and he’s a proven talent but he’s got a bit to answer for here.

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Graham 306 days ago

I think people are being a bit harsh on Eddie. He had a huge hand in South Africa's '07 success and SA rugby was dumb not to appoint him coach after Jake White - instead SA got the Blue Bull thinking Meyer and he destroyed a player like Frans Steyn - didn't even pick him - virtually told Montgomery he wouldn't be picked and we know where that got SA. Then he took England to the final and got let down by players like Itoje who just went missing in the face of Etsebeth. Heard him speak at a function and he was asked why England had changed so dramatically after their big semi win and he said: "Mate you just don't understand the intensity the Springboks brought to that park. The All Blacks were nowhere near that intensity." Give Eddie a chance. I think he really does have his sights set on how to win the next cup in Australia. That's if Australian Rugby give him the space he needs.

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Don M 306 days ago

He picked wannabes in this squad,, some young, instead of skillful in-form experienced players. Young doesen't automatically translate into long-term good. Rennie had Aust on track and we have ended up with a whacky shambles.

j
john 306 days ago

If you appoint the worst Wallaby we have in Porecki, as captain because he is a Tah pet, what do you expect Eddie ?

Of course the team will lose morale......

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