Despite a Saturday evening thriller in Paris between South Africa and Ireland, the main talking point from the Rugby World Cup over the weekend has been the awful performance of Australia.
Two-time tournament winners, Australia lost 40-6 to Wales in Lyon, sealing their likely exit from the Rugby World Cup at pool stages for the first time.
It’s been a dire four weeks for the Wallabies, losing to Fiji for the first time since 1954 and lacking any real attacking threat against Wales in their must-win clash.
And the blame is being pointed at one man – Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.
Jones returned as Australia coach in January 2023, following a lacklustre seven years in charge of England, promising to deliver a Wallabies squad that could be competitive in France.
Fast forward nine months, and Jones is now battling to save his job, although if reports are to be believed, he may already have another role lined up, with a return to Japan being muted.
However, the real cause of Australia’s capitulation can’t be all put on Eddie Jones, with the Wallabies now paying for years of under-investment in grassroots rugby.
If the calibre of player is not available to be selected, then any team will struggle.
With Australia seeming out of the running in Pool C now, it looks set that Wales will head to the quarter-finals as Pool winners, with Fiji joining them in the last eight.
Wales have enjoyed a successful tournament so far, but it could be argued that they have had the luck of the draw compared to other nations.
They will face the runners-up from Pool D in the quarter-finals, set to be one of Argentina, Japan, or Samoa.
While Fiji will face England, a team they shocked in a pre-tournament friendly at Twickenham.
If Wales do negotiate the quarter-finals, a semi-final against one of France, Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa is then on the cards – four tough potential opponents for Warren Gatland’s side.
The Welsh are currently 25/1 to lift the Rugby World Cup, and although it’s difficult to see them doing so, they do look to be a decent price for a trading opportunity.
They should have the class to edge out whoever they face in the quarter-finals, and in doing so, their price to win the tournament will shorten as they head into the semi-final stages.
Wales reached the last four in 2019, and a repeat of that feat looks on the cards this time around.