The Wallabies will make their first exit in Rugby World Cup history after a dismal 40-6 defeat to Wales, but under-fire coach Eddie Jones believes he is still the right man for the job.
The desperate Australians needed a win in Lyon on Sunday (Monday AEST) over their unbeaten pool rivals, but barring a miracle that sees Fiji lose both of their remaining games without bonus points, they will pull out.
It will be the first time the Wallabies have ever missed the World Cup quarter-finals, suffering the biggest defeat in tournament history.
Jones apologized for the humiliating result and said it was up to Rugby Australia whether he would keep his job, but insisted he could achieve success if given more time.
“I think I have the ability to turn things around,” he said.
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Eddie Jones believes he is still the right person to coach the Wallabies despite the loss to Wales, providing overwhelming evidence that his selections and tactics have backfired.
The Wallabies will make their first exit in Rugby World Cup history after losing to Wales (Photo: Samu Kerevi devastated after losing to Wales)
‘I was hoping to do it now, but I didn’t succeed and I take full responsibility for it. I didn’t do well enough and I’m extremely disappointed about that.’
The loss capped a dramatic day with reports that Jones had already interviewed for the Japan coaching role with a view to leaving the Australian team, despite having four years left on his contract.
Jones said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” when peppered with questions about Japan’s role.
“I take offense to people questioning my commitment to the job in Australia,” Jones said.
‘I have promised to coach Australia.’
Jones then threatened to leave the press conference if the line of questioning did not change.
Rugby Australia boss Phil Waugh said before the match on Sunday that Jones had denied he was pursuing a return to the Brave Blossoms and would be “disappointed” if he found out that was the case.
The dire World Cup results, with just one win from eight Tests now under Jones, and the Australian team going backwards in every department, could change Waugh’s mind.
Jones refuted reports that he had interviewed for a job with Japanese rugby officials in the run-up to the World Cup
The Wallabies coach threatened to leave the press conference if the questions asked of him did not change
The Wallabies squad was bereft of World Cup experience after Jones swept the squad and left out seasoned players including former captain Michael Hooper and playmaker Quade Cooper.
But he did not waver from his belief that it was the right thing to do.
‘I was put in this job to give Australia a new face. I don’t think I could have done it with the players who had played. “I think we needed another change,” he said.
“Obviously young lads struggled in the environment today, but unless they get that experience they won’t develop into the players they can be. This is the most painful time, don’t get me wrong, but it is also the best learning time for young players. This is where they really get to know the game and what you need for the test level.
“There isn’t a team I’ve coached that hasn’t experienced this at the beginning of their tenure.”
‘A process unfortunately takes time and pain. Sometimes it takes more pain than pleasure, I have no doubt what I’m about to do. Even though it looks like it’s a mess right now, I can guarantee it’s not.
‘There is a core group of players who will be very good. Some of those players will eventually be world class. They will form the backbone of a very successful Australian team. I do not doubt that.’
The Wallabies still have one World Cup match remaining against Portugal.