Eddie Jones and the Wallabies have slumped to their equal-worst ranking ever after their historic loss to Fiji at the Rugby World Cup, but the Pacific Island nation's form ahead of the tournament proves it wasn't such a shock. Heading into the World Cup, the Wallabies hadn't won a single game under Jones having lost five straight matches.
The Wallabies had slipped to World No.9 ahead of the World Cup, which was their equal-worst ranking in history. Australia were hammered by France, lost twice to the All Blacks, lost to Argentina and were dismantled by South Africa in the build-up to the tournament.
'SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED': Image leaves Wallabies fans seething
At this stage, England, Fiji and Argentina had all overtaken Australia before the tournament kicked-off in Paris. Fiji had shown some impressive form leading into Paris having defeated England 30-22 at Twickenham. They had also pushed tournament favourites France in a warm-up game.
In a unique ranking system, teams are upgraded as the tournament progresses. A win against Georgia saw the Wallabies leap two positions, while Fiji's heartbreaking defeat to Wales saw them drop back.
However, Fiji recorded their first victory over the Wallabies in 69 years having outplayed Jones' men in nearly all areas of the game, including a dominant display at the breakdown. The Wallabies handed out a joint tournament-high 18 penalties in the game.
And the Wallabies dropped back down to ninth position in the world rankings having won one of the seven games since Jones has taken charge. Fiji's victory may have come as a shock, but to many it was the result of some strong form and a solid build-up to the World Cup.
For Australia, it could get worse. The Wallabies now face two must-win clashes against Portugal and then against group leaders Wales to have a hope of progressing.
If the Wallabies lose and fail to progress out of the group stage of the World Cup for the first time in their history, they could drop to World No.10. Argentina would need to defeat Samoa, which is a huge possibility, for the Wallabies to sink to a new low. On the flip side, a win could see the Wallabies climb as high as fifth with World Cup matches worth double the points in the rankings.
Eddie Jones cops heat as Wallabies face elimination
After the game against Fiji, Jones was the centre of some jeers from the crowd. And the former England coach admitted that he deserves the heat after the worrying slump. However, he has stood firm and claimed Australia needed to look towards the future at this World Cup.
“We’ve gone with a young team but I’ve got no regrets at all," he said. “We are building a team for the future and we are going to go through some pain.
“I made the decision to go for a younger team and if that’s the wrong decision then I will be held accountable for that but I think Australian rugby needs to move on to a younger team.
“I am prepared to go through some pain to leave Australia with a team capable of doing really well in a World Cup and that’s not to say we can’t do it; we’ve had a bit of a setback today [Sunday] but that’s all part of being in a World Cup."
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