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The Roar



The Wallabies' loss to France is not to be celebrated, but should boost their belief

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Roar Pro
6th November, 2022
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What an epic Test match the Wallabies played against France in Paris this weekend, with the last-minute, one-point loss being all the more painful because the men in gold left it all out on the park against the World Cup favourites.

I was on the edge of my seat for the entire match and found it far more enjoyable than the lucky one-point win against Scotland a week ago, with the Wallabies upping the intensity to a level worthy of test rugby against the French.

The end to end try finished off by Lalakai Foketi was the most visible symbol of the dramatic improvement in attitude that the Wallabies have bought in the space of a week, with the ball finding its way to winger Tom Wright through multiple sets of hands, and Jock Campbell running hard to link with Wright then with equally hard running Foketi.

This is what we expect from the Wallabies at every opportunity in every game and what they will hopefully expect of themselves, so that they can get the most enjoyment out of rewatching their career highlights in years to come.

The Roar rugby experts Brett McKay, Harry Jones and Jim Tucker come together for another Instant Reaction from the Wallabies’ Spring Tour of Europe, a heartbreaking 30-29 loss to France in Paris

Also a signifier of the Wallabies’ dramatically improved work ethic was blindside flanker Jed Holloway, who put in a season best tackle count of nine with only one miss and made an excellent attacking contribution of six runs in 32 metres, on top of catching and passing as part of the Foketi try.


What doesn’t show up in the stats is the number of times Holloway was in the ruck holding up attacking opponents and slowing down the ball, a critical contribution that suits his large frame.

Antoine Dupont of France is tackled by Nic White of Australia during the Autumn Nations Series match between France and Australia on November 05, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Antoine Dupont of France is tackled by Nic White of Australia (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Holloway has bought an excellent contribution to the Wallabies in the lineout and maul all season and has always been a threat in attack, but this was the first time I have seen him play the non-negotiable roles of ruck guardian and key defender that a blindside flanker must contribute if his team is to win, so hopefully he keep working hard to continue to improve those aspects of his game.

Three of the four players mentioned, Foketi, Campbell and Holloway, are players who have made their international debuts late in their careers, which is a growing theme in Dave Rennie’s Wallabies. Apart from the three mentioned I count Matt Gibbon, Dave Poreki, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, Andrew Kellaway and the granddad of the group Caderyn Neville at 33 years old, as players who have received their first cap at over the age of 25.

It is good news to all professional rugby players in Australia that Rennie considers that you are never too old if you are good enough, and it is good for the game that the Wallabies remains a drawcard to bring good players back into Australian rugby after time spent overseas.

What did bother me during this game was that after the French scored their final converted try in the 76th minute, the body language visibly changed for the worst amongst the Wallabies. After a few last minute heartbreaks this season the slumped shoulders and long faces pointed to players thinking “here we go again”.


A negative psychological state at a key time in the game has to translate into panic and the sorts of errors that prevented the Wallabies, who had a 60-metre goal kicker on the field in Reece Hodge, from ultimately securing the win.

I wonder if it is in these sorts of key moments that the older players, all of whom have played a lot of professional rugby, even if it is not at the international level, can help the onfield captain to rally the troops and focus? Experience brings improved judgement and authority even to those without formal leadership positions, it is sometimes just a matter of the team giving all members permission to use their experience at key times.

So while the loss was a big disappointment, the Wallabies showed that they are a far better team than their performance the week before.

They have work to do both individually and as a team if they are going to go from close losses to wins in these big matches against the best teams, but the gains that they need to make are clear, incremental and achievable.

This team have every reason to keep their chins up and keep believing that they can win the World Cup next year and Wallabies supporters have every reason to keep enjoying the journey with them.

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