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Wallabies facing first winless European tour in almost 50 years

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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It shaped as the turning point in Dave Rennie’s tumultuous tenure as Wallabies coach.

Instead the spring tour threatens to end in despair unless Australia’s spluttering attack can fire and spark a morale-boosting rebound victory over Wales on Saturday.

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Soaring to third in the rankings after five straight victories for the first time since 2015, hopes were high that the Wallabies were building nicely towards the 2023 World Cup in France.

But back-to-back insipid defeats to Scotland and Eddie Jones’ England have left Rennie’s men staring down the barrel of a first winless spring tour of Europe in almost half a century.

Not since Australia lost successive tests to France in 1976 or to both Wales and England in 1973 in abbreviated spring tours have the Wallabies returned home from Europe empty-handed.

A different style of rugby is essential for success in the northern climes, a fact glaringly exposed on this trip to Britain in which the Wallabies have managed just one solitary try from the two games against Scotland and England.


That the touring class of 2021 are just two years shy of another global showpiece in Europe only raises the stakes before the showdown with Wales in Cardiff.

“It’s hugely important. The support we had back at home and the support we have over here, they deserve better,” Rennie said.

“So we definitely want to finish on a high.”

Alarmingly, Australia have now lost eight consecutive tests against England – by an average margin of 16 points – since Jones took charge after the Wallabies unceremoniously dumped the tournament hosts out of the 2015 World Cup before the knockout stages under Stuart Lancaster’s coaching.


Rennie conceded the Wallabies’ disappointing tour form is a step backwards after generating some desperately needed momentum with a home series win over France and twin victories over world champions South Africa before departing for the northern hemisphere.

“Of course it’s a setback because the plan was to come over here and keep building on that,” he said.

“It’s exciting for the boys to be up here. We’ve talked a lot about embracing it. We’re where we want to be.

“But we haven’t performed with the accuracy and consistency that we’ve needed over here.

“They ask a lot of questions of you, they put a lot of ball in the air, play a lot of territory and you’ve got to be disciplined and accurate.”

Compounding the Wallabies’ woes was a possible tour-ending foot injury for inspirational captain Michael Hooper and the meek manner of the latest surrender to England.

“We prepared really well. We probably had one of our best weeks and we went into with good clarity and confidence,” Rennie said.

“But we’re turning too much ball over. Some individual mistakes put us under pressure and too many dumb penalties.

“We have to be better.”

Otherwise another loss this weekend will render the five-match winning streak on home soil this year as merely another false dawn for the Wallabies.


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