It’s almost hard to describe what the atmosphere was like at OL Stadium as the Wallabies fell to a record 40-6 defeat to Wales in September which left their World Cup campaign in tatters.
Bleak, sombre, sad – three words that quite easily come to mind, but none of them adequately sum up the situation on their own. There was a palpable sense of disappointment felt around the Lyon venue.
The Wallabies were later sent packing before the quarterfinals for the first time, which led to even more questions about the makeup of the squad and the direction that coach Eddie Jones had taken the young team.
In the five weeks since they were mathematically eliminated from quarter-final contention, things have gone from bad to worse for both the Wallabies and Australian rugby. Coach Jones has resigned and wing Mark Nawaqanitawase has met with an NRL club.
But there’s hope. Former captain Michael Hooper, who was sensationally omitted from that World Cup squad to the surprise of everyone, has discussed the “great thing” to come out of the Wallabies’ woeful campaign.
“It’s another four years away so we’ve got four years to reflect on it. It’s gonna be a long time between drinks I guess,” Hooper said on Channel 9’s The Today Show.
“The great thing, I guess, from a situation like that is you’ve got a bunch of players who are just hungry to turn it around, make it into something that’s great.”
Hooper, who has joined the Australian Sevens program ahead of the upcoming HSBC SVNS season and the Olympics in Paris, was left out along with a row of other big names.
But with the Wallabies’ disaster that is the 2023 Rugby World Cup now in the past, Australian rugby fans can begin their focus towards the future – which includes men’s and women’s World Cups on home soil in 2027 and 2029 respectively.
“I think the most important thing is whoever does step in has a bunch of players who are just hungry to get after it and to get straight into it next year,” Hooper added.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of the guys, they just want to rip into their preseasons (and) they were playing two months ago. Usually after a campaign like that, you want to have as much time off as you can but these guys want to get back in.
“To whoever that coach is, they’re going to (have) a lot of hungry guys working for them.”