The earliest Australian World Cup exit ever has come with an added blow for the beleaguered Wallabies who have now sunk to a world rankings low.
On the back of the horrible 40-6 loss to Wales in Lyon that all but ended their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals – the first time in history the Wallabies have fallen short – the Australians have dropped to 10th on the rankings.
That puts the Aussies one spot lower than Argentina, coached by ex-Wallabies mentor Michael Cheika, who have jumped to ninth after a scrappy 19-10 win over Samoa.
The Wallabies lost a massive 2½ points in their heavy defeat and it’s the first time the Australians have hit double digits since the rankings were introduced.
It comes amid ongoing fallout from the disastrous World Cup campaign, with a full review set to be conducted by Rugby Australia with calls for chairman Hamish McLennan to stand down and Wallabies coach Eddie Jones under pressure to keep his spot.
Jones is in the gun after reports he conducted an interview for the vacant coaching role at Japan, and McLennan conceded the Wallabies boss had a “standing offer from Japan”.
But Jones, who has won just a single Test from eight matches in 2023 after taking over for a second time, rebuked reports that he’d spoken to Japanese officials and reaffirmed his commitment to Australian rugby.
Despite the World Cup horror show, and now the rankings drop, Jones said reviving rugby in Australia was a “process” and would involve some “pain”.
“Whenever you start the job you want to win games and create the best team we can, but there is a process involved … it unfortunately takes times, takes some pain,” he said.
“Sometimes it takes more pain than it does pleasure. I have no doubt what I set out to do. While it looks at the moment like it‘s a shambles, I can guarantee it’s not.”
The Wallabies have one final World Cup pool game against world No.16 Portugal, in Saint-Etienne on Monday morning, where a win could help arrest the rankings slide.
The Japan Rugby Football Union has refused to comment on their pursuit of Jones, and RA chief executive Phil Waugh said he was trusting the coach’s word that he had not being interviewed.
RA chairman Hamish McLennan said he was aware of a job offer made to Jones but said the 63-year-old had turned it down.
A new report out of Japan last weekend suggested Jones may been assisting with the coaching recruitment process.