We are seeing a similar pattern with the Wallabies.
In 2015, shortly before the World Cup in England, Australia had fallen to their worst ranking since they began in the early 2000’s. But, surprisingly, Australia bounced back, topping Pool A.
They then defeated Scotland in the quarter-finals by one point, thanks to a lucky penalty and a cool finish by Bernard “Ice Man” Foley, before keeping Argentina try-less in the semi-finals.
They then lost to the All Blacks in a final that had the largest combined score of any Rugby World Cup final in history.
The semi-final between South Africa and New Zealand, which ended with only a two-point margin, was more epic than the final itself.
Perhaps the Wallabies were so tired and ruined from the tough matches played throughout that tournament that, when the final came, they were just too exhausted to challenge them.
Australia did stay in for a good amount of time during that match, and even came within a converted try of being in front, but it was obvious from the start that New Zealand were going to be crowned champions.
We are seeing it again from Australia. This time only worse.
In 2015, to start off the international calendar, Australia was already given a helping hand in the Rugby Championship with the tournament being shortened. That meant the Wallabies only had to win once against New Zealand and South Africa, rather than twice. Australia beat New Zealand and won the Rugby Championship. Soon followed Bledisloe Game 2. Australia lost heavily in Auckland.
However, more important matches were ahead.
In two games’ time Australia would play the hosts at Twickenham. Unfortunately for England, they were sent home. Bernard Foley scored 28 points, more than England scored in the entire match.
Australia beat Wales to top Pool A, beat Scotland by one point and made mince meat of Argentina in the semi-finals. By now, Australia had only one loss for 2015 and it was always going to be a decider against the All Blacks.
It was almost a 50-50 battle before the game started. Australia beat New Zealand in August on home soil. New Zealand beat Australia in August on home soil.
An abysmal season, a decline in rankings. Will the same happen for the Wallabies in 2019?