The former Wales captain Gwyn Jones accused England of persistent underachievement after watching them lose to Australia at Twickenham to send Wales and the Wallabies through to the World Cup quarter-finals.
Jones said England had questions to answer, pointing to their unrivalled resources and player numbers, and contrasted that with his own country’s efforts in beating England at Twickenham days ago to emerge from the tournament’s toughest group.
“We’ve done what we had to do: beat England at Twickenham, Fiji and Uruguay at home,” Jones told the BBC. “We’ve survived the pool of death – what more could you ask?
“England have such an [enviable] record at Twickenham, particularly against Australia more than anyone else, and with all the resources the Rugby Football Union has got to hand, the player numbers, they really should be one of the best teams in the world but they underachieve year after year.
“Australia’s win was by far the best performance by any team in the World Cup so far, New Zealand included. To beat England by 20 points at Twickenham in such a big game really stands Australia in an excellent position for the rest of the tournament.”
The former Wales wing Shane Williams offered his verdict on Twitter, backing Australia to go far in the tournament. “I think Australia completely dominated the first half,” he said. “Foley was excellent, Pocock was a threat. In the second half Ford came on for England and made a difference and there was the great Watson try. England looked a different team, however Australia really composed themselves when it got close in the second half.
“I think they will be a side that is there or thereabouts in the semi-finals and final. They are a class outfit and their No6, No7 and No8 were fantastic.
“It was a tough pool and it was always going to be hard for England and the fact that it’s their World Cup and they are out of it now is a bit of a shame really, however Wales have qualified and have got out of the group when people really didn’t think they would.”
Wales now face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday to decide who emerges as pool winners, and their former flanker Martyn Williams is in no doubt about the size of their task. “With a scrum and a forward platform in place, everyone knows Australia’s backline is deadly,” he told the BBC. “They are a dangerous side and when Wales play them next week we’ll have an awful lot to contend with.”
Martyn Williams said Wales’ task is to finish top of the pool, and avoid a likely meeting with the resurgent Springboks, who top Pool B with the USA their final opponents. “Although qualifying for the quarter-finals is just step one, for now they deserve to take that in because it was called the pool of death for a reason, because you had four very, very good sides in there.
“That group of players have done it before, got to the semi-final last time against the odds in 2011, so they’ll want to go one step at a time.
“Even though Japan caused that upset [by beating] South Africa, you knew to get that ‘easier’ route you’d have to win this group and avoid the Springboks, and that means Wales have to beat Australia next week. After Australia’s performance tonight that’s going to be very, very tough, but this is a special group of Welsh players, a special coaching group and you never write this group off. They’ve still got a core of world-class players in that Wales team and if things go their way next week they might be able to pull off a miraculous win like they did last week.”
Australia v Wales, Sat, 4.45pm ITV/S4C
This article was written by Edward Gibbes, for theguardian.com on Sunday 4th October 2015 00.41 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010