SYDNEY (AFP) – Australian media on Sunday lamented the Wallabies crushing 41-16 defeat by the British and Irish Lions as a "crying shame", with commentators saying it was expected to hasten the departure of coach Robbie Deans.
In the most anticipated rugby match in Australia since the 2003 World Cup final, the tourists trounced the Wallabies on Saturday, exposing a dysfunctional scrum before a packed Sydney stadium in an event the Sunday Telegraph described as a "horror show".
The game was "the bad-old Wallabies' frailties writ large; a crumbling scrum penalised into oblivion", it said.
"The Wallabies scrum gave up nine penalties, and kept the Lions scoreboard ticking over so much they could play more rugby, and tire the Australian legs," Iain Payten wrote in the paper.
"Even after the Wallabies drew to within three points in a mini-fightback, gaps appeared late from the weary home side and the Lions 'punished' the errors."
While the tour served to heighten interest in rugby union, which often struggles to compete against other football codes Down Under, the Australian public was left disappointed by the Wallabies' demolition in the final game.
"It was a disaster from the kick-off, a misunderstanding causing halfback Will Genia to knock-on and set up the Lions for (Alex) Corbisiero's try," wrote Georgina Robinson in the Sun-Herald.
"Australia collapsed, often literally, at set piece, the Lions milking six more points from the scrum before Ben Alexander was sent off in the 25th minute for repeated infringements on the front row."
The mauling by the Lions, who took the three-Test series 2-1, immediately heightened speculation about coach Deans, with suggestions the New Zealander could be removed before The Rugby Championship begins in August.
"The Robbie Deans era came to a catastrophic end last night," wrote Jim Tucker in The Sunday Telegraph.
"Deans has had his shot. It is time to exit. Last night was a catastrophe of scrum penalties, poor kicks, the sloppy knock-on from the kick-off, errors and the selection blooper that dooms Deans.
"He decided to play the might of the Lions without a specialist five-eighth."
The Sun-Herald agreed that the demolition of the Wallabies could spell an end to Deans' time in charge, saying with the Rugby World Cup little more than two years away, he would be wondering whether he would be allowed to see out his contract which finishes at the end of the year.
Former Wallaby Brendan Cannon said he believed speculation about Deans' position was not based only on the team's on-field performance, but the level of unity within the playing squad.
"Player harmony is the biggest issue within the Wallabies and must be addressed," he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.