Barry John laments latest Wales loss
December 2, 2013
Quade Cooper produced a dynamic performance for the Wallabies against Wales in Cardiff © Getty Images
Barry John says Wales' latest defeat by Australia has left them with a "World Cup-sized headache" ahead of the 2015 tournament.
The Wallabies 30-26 win at theMillennium Stadium on Saturday was their ninth straight victory over Wales, who've now won just one of their last 23 Tests against southern hemisphere giants New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. This reverse was all the more significant given Wales and the Wallabies are in the same World Cup 'group of death' as England.
"This was a game Wales simply had to win, not just to take that southern hemisphere scalp we so badly needed but to lay down a marker with the 2015 World Cup meeting with the Wallabies in mind," wrote John in his Wales on Sunday column. "I know it's nearly two years out from that Twickenham game but the fact the two countries don't play each other until then raised the stakes here."
Wales great John, widely regarded as one of rugby union's best all-time outside or fly-halves, said the performance of Australia No 10 Quade Cooper had been decisive on Saturday.
"What a player Quade Cooper is. The outside-half showed up where Wales are lacking, you often hear the term playmaker but this is what playmaking is all about. He's the player who can get you off your seat in a heartbeat," added John. "The way he shows the ball is so tantalising for defences who tend to ball-watch because that's the natural thing to do. When players run off him, and these are big guys coming off his shoulder, it's amazing to watch and he bamboozled Wales at times."
And John said Cooper's play has shone a spotlight on one of the underlying issues confronting all of British rugby union. "The deftness of his passing is what we lack not only in Wales but in the UK as a whole."
Next year will see Wales bidding for a third successive Six Nations title but John said Saturday's loss put the annual battle between Europe's leading nations into perspective.
"We've dominated it in recent years but it doesn't mean we are good enough to beat the likes of Australia after they've had such a long season. They look comfortable when they come to the northern hemisphere, they should be tired but their pace of the game is too much and when they break the line they can score tries. But this was our big chance to beat one of the big boys - and the fact we couldn't do it leaves us with a World Cup-sized headache," lamented John.
The Wallabies maintained their grip on Wales in Cardiff (video available only in Australia)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall
John Griffiths digs into the distant past to try to establish the identity of an England international whose life is a virtual mystery