Rugby World Cup Pedigree:
The joint must successful World Cup side ever going into the tournament, Australia have history on their side. Success in 1991 and 1999 saw players become legends, and expectation levels were raised yet again in 2003 when the Wallabies marched through to the final in their own backyard, only for their greedy hopes of a third victory to be crushed by the boot of Jonny (feels good to reminisce doesn’t it?) Three finals with two victories however is an unprecedented success rate at Rugby World Cups.
Becoming champions in 1991 and 1999 makes Australia the only team to win two titles within a decade. Their other performances have included making the final in 2003, along with a semi-final appearance in 1987. The Wallabies most disappointing performances however came in 1995 and 2007, when they crashed out in the quarter-finals, both at the hands of old rivals England.
Best Rugby World Cup moment:
Winning their first Rugby World Cup in 1991 nearly never happened, as Australia scraped past Ireland at Lansdowne Road 19-18 in the quarter-final. A late, late score from Michael Lynagh stole the game away from the hosts to book Australia’s spot in the semi-finals, breaking several Irish hearts in the process.
Biggest Rugby World Cup win: 142-0 v Namibia (October 25, 2003)
Biggest Rugby World Cup defeat: 18-27 v South Africa (May 25, 1995)
Quade Cooper may grab all the headlines for Australia, but the real master of this Wallaby team is Will Genia. The Queensland scrum-half is still a young man at the age of 23, but his presence and level of control on the field are that of a veteran. It was Genia’s clear communication and excellent distribution that led the Reds to the Super Rugby title this year, but he is not just a simple passer of the ball, as his huge sprint for the line in the final showed that he has got pace to burn as well. A huge talent, and future Wallaby captain.
One to watch:
Picking one star out of the trio of Cooper, James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale is not easy, so keep an eye on all of them. The trio do share some similarities though; they are all excellent goal-kickers, have tons of pace, and see gaps others don’t. Against lesser sides, expect these three players to rack up the tries.
Rugby World Cup Fixtures:
v Italy (September 11, 04:30)
v Ireland (September 17, 09:30)
v USA (September 23, 09:30)
v Russia (October 1, 03:30)
Whilst undoubtedly favourites for their pool, Ireland have given the Wallabies some scares over the years, firstly in that quarter-final in 1991 and again in the 2003 quarter-final. Both teams packs are far from exceptional, but the Wallabies defence, especially that of Quade Cooper, will be tested by the big running of players like Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip. Win this match and the Wallabies will face one of Wales/Fiji/Samoa. Lose, and they’ll face the Springboks.
Odds: A very strong 4/1 on.
Australia coach Robbie Deans says:
“There’s no coincidence the only World Cup New Zealand has won was in New Zealand. Right from the outset they talked about a stadium of four-and-a-half million (people) and that will be the reality so they will play out of their skins. I wouldn’t take any pleasure out of the All Blacks suffering, but I’ll take an enormous amount pleasure out of what we do.”
Australia captain James Horwill says:
“It came as very much of a surprise. I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to represent my country (and) to be announced as captain is a great honour. There’s a good mix of age and youth in the squad, and it’s a big challenge in a unique tournament.”
I’ll be open about this and state than I want the Wallabies to win it. I really do. They have the flair, the leadership, can score tries at will and rack up more points than they leak. But if it comes down to a World Cup final between the All Blacks and the Wallabies at Eden Park, home advantage may push New Zealand through. Whether Australia win the final or not, expect some superb scores along the way.
Position: The final. Potential winners.
by Ben Coles