Rugby-Skelton backs Jones as Wallabies fall to new rankings low

  • Rugby
  • Monday, 25 Sep 2023

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn International - England v Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 13, 2021 Australia's Will Skelton during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File Photo

LYON, France (Reuters) - Wallabies captain Will Skelton backed coach Eddie Jones as the man to revive Australian rugby on Monday as the nation started coming to terms with its much-reduced status in the world game.

Their 40-6 loss to Wales in Pool C not only pushed the Wallabies to the brink of elimination from the World Cup, it also resulted in another drop down the rankings ladder to an unprecedented low of 10th in the world.

Jones has taken most of the flak for the calamitous campaign but Skelton, who has missed Australia's last two games with a calf injury, said the players still backed him to turn things around in the long term.

"I think his long-term vision and what he wants Australian rugby to be back to, I think that's a positive," the lock told reporters.

"The way he is around the group, you see in the media he has his persona, but when you see him one-to-one, in front of the team, how he speaks, how he directs, the boys follow him and I do as well.

"He is a fantastic coach with a massive rugby IQ. We're learning every day when we're working with him. It's one of those things, he simplifies the game of rugby for us."

That the results on the pitch have not reflected that -- Australia have one win over Georgia from eight tests since Jones took over in January -- was down to the players, Skelton said.

"Unfortunately we couldn't perform up to those standards on the weekend and the weeks gone by, to really show that coaching that's been happening in the last few months," he added.

"That's on the players and us owning that, and putting our hands up as well."

The Wallabies still have a slim chance of making the quarter-finals but relying on Fiji slipping up in one of their remaining matches is a humiliation too far for many Australians, who remember when they ruled the world in 1991 and 1999.

The Wallabies would also need to win their remaining match against Portugal in Saint Etienne next weekend but Skelton, who is unlikely to be available, said they would allow the scars to heal from Sunday's defeat before turning to that fixture.

"It takes a day or two emotionally to get back after a loss like that, with so much on the line, it's still quite raw," he said. "Then build the week into what we want to be proud of, and a performance we want to be proud of."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ken Ferris)

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