Wallabies legend Michael Lynagh voices his biggest fear after Australia dropped out of World Cup ‘with a whimper’: ‘The AFL and NRL are laughing at us’

Australian rugby legend Michael Lynagh is concerned that Wallabies’ young stars will be scarred after their dreadful Rugby World Cup campaign, with Eddie Jones’s side dumped out at the pool stage.

Fiji’s defeat by Portugal consigned Australia to an embarrassing exit from the competition, with the Wallabies losing two of their four games in France.

The Aussies lost 22-15 to Fiji – the Pacific Islanders’ first win over the Wallabies since 1954 – as well as a humiliating 40-6 defeat by Wales in Lyon. 

Lynagh, who won the World Cup in 1991 and played at three tournaments, was unable to hide his ‘sadness’ at Australia’s demise. 

‘My overriding emotion is one of sadness,’ Lynagh told BBC’s Rugby Union Daily podcast. 

Michael Lynagh has expressed his fears for the Wallabies after their World Cup exit

Eddie Jones's side crashed out of the pool stage at the tournament in embarrassing fashion

Eddie Jones’s side crashed out of the pool stage at the tournament in embarrassing fashion

‘Australia really haven’t fired a shot at this World Cup and it’s really disappointing. I feel for the players. They’re not bad players and they’ve worked really hard but when they get out on the field it just doesn’t seem to click for them.

‘I feel the way this has gone there’s going to be a few of them that might struggle to get over this experience. I hope not.

‘So sadness, not just for the players but a lot of Australian supporters, not only the ones back home but also the ones that have financially and emotionally supported the team in France to be knocked out so early, is terribly disappointing for them all.’

While paying credit to Fiji and Wales, Lynagh bemoaned Australia for going ‘out with a whimper’. 

‘It’s probably the culmination of a downward trend over the past 10 or 15 years that rugby’s been heading this way,’ Lynagh observed.

‘And this was a really full stop wake up call that something has to be done in Australia about this and the decline of rugby – in the way of people attending games in Australia. The youngsters coming through are choosing different sports which are better funded than rugby.

‘We all hope that a successful Australian rugby team can carry us through and plaster over these problems but I’m afraid this time it hasn’t. It’s time for a full stop and see what we can do going forward.’

Wallabies legend Lynagh fears the experience will scar Australia's young players

Wallabies legend Lynagh fears the experience will scar Australia’s young players

A big few years await Australian rugby, with the British and Irish Lions touring in 2025, before the World Cup returns Down Under in 2027. 

Rugby Australia wants to introduce a centralised system which, it is hoped, will put the nation on a par with Ireland and New Zealand. 

And Lynagh says Australia desperately needs to go on an upward trend to be on a par with the AFL and NRL. 

‘We want them to be competitive, we want to have the local support behind us, the whole country behind us, as opposed to AFL and rugby league supporters laughing at us and putting us down – which is what is happening at the moment,’ Lynagh said.

‘There has been for a while. It’s at pretty much a low point at the moment but a lot of people – me in particular – have seen it coming for a while and been worried about if for a while.’

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