Fiji has been lavished in praise after their stunning upset win over the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup.
But the Australians have been roundly slammed following a first loss to the Flying Fijians since 1954.
Here’s how media around the world reacted to the 22-15 defeat.
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‘It’s a STUNNER’: Fiji elated at FT! | 00:42
FIJI PRAISED FOR CLINICAL PERFORMANCE
Writing for The Times, Mark Palmer criticised the Aussies’ “hamfistedness” compared to the impressive performance from the Fijian side.
“Fiji dominated – were the more composed, clinical and clever team – but Australia refused to go quietly”, he wrote.
“It was tight and it was taut, but Fiji were comfortably the more convincing,” Palmer added.
The Telegraph similarly wrote: “They were comprehensively the better side in Saint-Etienne, a sign not only of their remarkable growth in a short space of time this year under Simon Raiwalui but also how far the Wallabies have dramatically fallen. The most shocking thing about the game was how normal it all felt.”
It added that Fiji were “relentless over the ball at the breakdown as Australia’s attacks turned to dust.”
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In The Guardian, Andy Bull wrote: “Fiji did not over-run Australia so much as they just shut them out of the match. They were sharper in their decision making, stronger in the set‑pieces, and more disciplined around the field.”
He added: “the surprising thing was Australia never looked close to winning this one.”
Alex Bywater wrote for the Daily Mail: “Famed for being rugby’s greatest ad-libbers, Fiji put the razzle-dazzle away and won in a very un-Fijian traditional way: Breakdown domination, brick-wall defence, and relentless commitment for 80 minutes.”
Nick Mucalvenny wrote for Reuters that it was: “a thoroughly deserved 22-15 victory that blew Pool C wide open and left the twice world champion Wallabies shell-shocked. Denied a likely victory over Wales in their opener by a dropped pass, Fiji overpowered the Australians with direct running, explosive tackling and 11 turnovers.”
Scottish rugby great Scott Hastings posted on Twitter: “OMG! The rugby world cup has just exploded into oblivion! Fiji have just beaten Wallabies”.
Meanwhile, the Australians were ill-disciplined, conceding 18 penalties to seven from their opponents, with a raft of sloppy errors in possession.
Daniel Gallan wrote in The Guardian: “Australia lacked cohesion and composure. They’d follow up a slick move down the line with an aimless kick to no one. A swift steal on the ground would precede a knock-on. A dominant carry would come to nothing as the necessary support at the ruck failed to arrive.”
He added that “inaccuracy at the ruck and an inability to stifle the relentless Fijian fetchers meant the Wallabies’ free-wheeling jazzy vibe took on a staccato beat. There was no tempo, no rhythm. It was a tough watch for anyone with gold in their heart.”
Kiwi sports writer Ollie Ritchie wrote: “Maybe as bad as the Wallabies have been all year. Utterly dreadful”.
And Wallabies legend David Campese wrote for Planet Rugby: “As a proud Aussie it pains me to watch the Wallabies lose to Fiji without really firing a shot and looking so short of basic rugby skills and IQ.”
He added: “Fiji murdered Australia at the breakdown, both on the floor and in carrying into contact. Seven steals tells you all you need to know about how poorly the Wallabies protected their own ball …”
Throw ‘croissants at me’ Jones owns loss | 02:52
Coach Eddie Jones has earned his fair share of criticism too, with his selections heavily panned.
Sonny Bill Williams said on Stan after the game: “These selections, I’m going to call it how it is. We’re in a high performance arena and sometimes you live and die by your decisions and Eddie Jones got found out tonight unfortunately.”
Particularly criticised was Jones’ 50th-minute withdrawal of fly half Carter Gordon after a nightmare game.
Jones said afterwards: “Carter is a young 10, he’s going to have those days mate. I think I’ve said this before, he’s going to have those days but he’ll bounce back, he’s a good young player.”
Gordon’s lowlight was a disastrous decision to let a kick bounce instead of taking it on the full, leading to Josua Tuisova scoring in the corner just minutes into the second half.
Gallan wrote in the Guardian: “One moment summed up their ineptitude. A box kick was hoisted high and Carter Gordon zeroed in on it. Nawaqanitawase had his back turned but his eyes fixed on the dipping pill. Both jumped towards it without conviction and allowed it to bounce, a cardinal crime in this game.”
Humiliating error that sums up Fiji loss | 00:47
Palmer wrote in The Times: “Australia were all over the place … Jones’s first move was to remove the erratic Gordon from the line of fire, with Donaldson going to fly half, Nawaqanitawase to full back and Suli Vunivalu coming onto the right wing.
“Amid this considerable reshuffle, we – and presumably Jones – again had pause to wonder whether it might have been simpler just to pick Quade Cooper in the first place.”
The Telegraph claimed: “Hooking their young fly-half Carter Gordon on 50 minutes, after he had been disastrously at fault for Tuisova’s try, was a damning statement from Eddie Jones.
“There’s no denying that this is a callow Australian side by design from Jones, with Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper among the veterans left out and an eye clearly on the future. But the way Australia failed to convert their brief spells of pressure into points should have Jones worried, along with the way Fiji won breakdown penalties with such frequency that no Australian ruck felt safe.”
The Australian team was certainly young – with injured Will Skelton ruled out last-minute to the surprise of no-one, and Taniela Tupou also set to miss the crucial clash against Wales after a knee injury.
But Wallabies great David Campese wrote for Planet Rugby: “Sure, losing players like Will Skelton and Taniela Tupou didn’t help our cause but World Cup campaigns are based on squads, not individuals, and it was our squad and leadership that came up short.
He added: “This was a side that have no clue how to attack and do not know each others’ games in terms of attack.”
There’s no doubt that Fiji delivered a far more mature performance – and a wake-up call for Rugby Australia about the Wallabies’ standing in the global game.
Gallan wrote in The Guardian: “The real question is where this leaves Australian rugby as a concept. How on earth can a team outside of the Six Nations or Rugby Championship hand them such a pasting?
“Fiji didn’t win this through mindless ball carries from muscled men with little regard for their safety. Australia were outwitted, outfought and outclassed. They become the first so-called tier-one nation to succumb to a side that still scrapes an existence in relative obscurity between World Cups … If nothing else, let this game compel those in charge of their sport, especially at Rugby Australia, to share a field with the smaller nations that have given as good as they’ve got this tournament.”
Bull wrote in The Guardian: “The odd thing was that it was the Fijians, so often the underdogs, who played the role of the elder sibling. All the development work – especially, as Jones noted, the introduction of the Drua into Super Rugby – is paying off for them, and it feels like the balance of power in the Pacific is finally shifting.”
“Jones’s team is a young Australian side, and will get better,” he added. “They were at their best in the final quarter when, the head coach noted, they were fielding their youngest side in almost 30 years. But still, given the directions in which these two teams are heading, you wonder when, if ever, the Fijians will start as second favourites in this fixture again.”