Michael Chieka as coach, some new players added to the squad and the omission of some big names like James Horwill all add to the debate about what can this Australian rugby team can actually achieve at this World Cup tourney. Oh! and also add the fact they are playing in England and in a group with both England & Wales and you will inevitably be led to the conclusion that one top five world ranked team will definitely not progress to the knockout stages.
Speaking to the Independent a couple of days ago Matt Giteau certainly thought the team has a chance. But despite being ranked the number two side in the world behind the All Blacks, Giteau conceded that the English are favourites for the group, pointing to home advantage as a major factor.
“Australia hasn’t been comprehensively beaten by England in a long time,” he suggested, so maybe there is hope for the Wallabies against the home nation.
You have to go back to 2012 for Australia’s last victory against England; they lost in 2013 and 2014 by seven and nine points respectively. And the last time the teams met in a Rugby World Cup was in 2007. That was in France where England advanced after beating the Aussies 12-10.
Australia’s chances of progressing from the group almost certainly hinges on a victory over Wales at Twickenham on October 10. Wales have lost two of their big name players in Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb, which will be a major blow to the men from the valleys.
The Wallabies have a great record against the Welsh, they have won all of the last 10 home and away meetings between the sides. They have also won on the last three occasions when they have met at a Rugby World Cup. Australia’s record is pretty good at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, so it is a shame that this match will be played at Twickenham, but surely that factor won’t trip up the Wallabies?
Bath, England: Joe Tomone (R) sits with his team mates during the Rugby World Cup 2015 Australia Welcome Ceremony