Australia’s ability to get up against the likes of the Springboks puts the two-time world champions Wallabies in the mix to lift the Webb Ellis Cup at France 2023, according to MARK KEOHANE.
While the bookies’ odds are on hosts France and top-ranked Ireland – along with the world champion Boks, the All Blacks and England – Keohane believes the Wallabies are worth a “punt”, despite their indifferent form in 2022.
The Aussies, who lost a July home series to England before they finished third in the Rugby Championship, closed off an unremarkable November tour with a come-from-behind victory over Wales on Saturday, ending a three-match losing run that included a historic defeat to Italy.
“There is no doubting France’s immediate form. They are unbeaten in 13 Tests and Ireland are unbeaten in 13 Tests at home,” Keohane wrote in his TimesLIVE column.
“But there are so many good teams that could spoil the party for France and Ireland. The Boks are one of them and so are the All Blacks.
“England have won a World Cup and will always be a title contender, and then there’s Australia, the winner of two World Cups, despite rugby union ranking outside the nation’s top five most popular sports.
“The Wallabies statistically have been flops since Kiwi Dave Rennie took charge. They are 13 wins from 34, with a 36 percent winning average.
“But here’s the kicker: Rennie’s 13 wins include a win against the All Blacks, three wins in four against the Springboks, a three-point defeat against Ireland in Dublin, in which they had the chance to draw in the final minute, a win against England, two wins against France and two defeats against France by one and two points respectively. There have also been four draws and a few single-digit defeats.
“Rennie’s Wallabies, ranked ninth in the world, will arrive in France as a team few speak of as World Cup winners, but they are good enough to leave there as the team everyone is speaking about.
“Right now, if you like a punt and you are thinking with your head, put a few bucks on Australia turning your ragged rands into a pot of gold.”