No rest for Wallabies as World Cup season begins

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies aren't easing into 2019, with players reporting for their first pre-World Cup camp on Monday.

Australia's national players convened for the training camp in Sydney, more than eight months out from the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji on September 21.

Roughly 30 started out in Sydney but players are expected to come in and out of the group over the course of the low-key, nine-day camp, ending on Tuesday week.

Not all of the usual touring team staff, including assistant coaches, were required for the duration with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika taking the reins of the fitness-focused agenda.

This is the first time the players and Cheika have come together since the end of the Spring Tour, when much of the group stayed on for a post-tour debrief before returning to Australia.

It is also the first time they have trained together since Rugby Australia announced the addition of Scotland's Scott Johnson as Australia's director of rugby and Cheika's retention through to the end of the World Cup.

Johnson is still in Scotland and will arrive in Australia after next month's Six Nations wraps, but he is understood to have been keeping a close eye on Australian rugby and the Wallabies.

Cheika's assistants for the World Cup are yet to be completely confirmed, with a decision on Nathan Grey, Simon Raiwalui and Stephen Larkham to be made by Cheika and Johnson as 2019 goes on.

The camp is a significant one for Australian rugby as much as just the Wallabies, with the four Super Rugby franchises needing to agree to release players from their individual preseasons to be part of the camp.

That agreement is a step in the right direction, as the four franchises and Wallabies move towards a more cooperative outlook that could extend to things like resting players through the Super Rugby year.

While the Wallabies' World Cup campaign doesn't kick off until September, their first Test of 2019 will be on July 20 against South Africa in Johannesburg, the opener to an abridged Rugby Championship.

An August 17 Test against the All Blacks in Auckland is their last confirmed fixture before the World Cup, with five weeks until the tournament begins.

In 2015, the Wallabies announced their Rugby World Cup squad four days after that second Bledisloe, before spending two weeks in the USA and then arriving at their pre-World Cup base in Bath, in England's south.

They are yet to confirm any pre-World Cup plans this year, though coach Michael Cheika said last year that a return to the States could be a possibility.

FIXTURES

2019 The Rugby Championship fixtures (full schedule TBC)

Saturday July 20 

South Africa vs Australia, Ellis Park, Johannesburg

Saturday July 27

Australia vs Argentina, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

New Zealand vs South Africa, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

TBC - Australia vs Argentina, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Saturday August 10

Australia vs All Blacks, Optus Stadium, Perth

Argentina vs South Africa, TBC

Saturday August 17

New Zealand vs Australia, Eden Park, Auckland

South Africa vs Argentina, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

2019 Laurie O'Reilly Trophy

Saturday August 10

Australia vs New Zealand, Optus Stadium, Perth

Saturday August 17

New Zealand vs Australia, Eden Park, Auckland

RUGBY WORLD CUP

Pool matches

Australia vs Fiji, Saturday September 21, 1:45pm local,  2:45pm AEST Sapporo Dome

Australia vs Wales, Saturday September 29, 4:45pm local, 5:45pm AEST, Tokyo Stadium

Australia vs Uruguay, Saturday October 5, 2:15pm local, 3:15pm AEST, Oita Stadium

Australia vs Georgia, Friday October 11, 7:15pm local, 8:15pm AEST, Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa

Quarter-finals

QF1 - Winner Pool C vs Runner-up Pool D, Saturday October 19, 4:15pm local, 5:15pm AEST Oita Stadium

QF2 - Winner Pool B vs Runner-up Pool A, Saturday October 19, 7:15pm local, 8:15pm AEST, Tokyo Stadium

QF3 - Winner Pool D vs Runner-up Pool C, Sunday October 20, 4:15pm local, 5:15pm AEST, Oita Stadium

QF4 - Winner Pool A vs Runner-up Pool B, Sunday October 20, 7:15pm local, 8:15pm AEST Tokyo Stadium

Semi-finals

SF1 - Winner QF1 vs Winner QF2, Saturday October 26, 5pm local, 6pm AEST, Yokohama International Stadium

SF2 - Winner QF3 vs Winner QF3, Sunday October 27, 6pm local, 7pm AEST, Yokohama International Stadium

Bronze final

Loser SF1 vs Loser SF 2, Friday November 1, 6pm local, 7pm AEST Tokyo Stadium

Final

Winner SF1 vs winner SF2, Saturday November 2, 6pm local,  7pm AEST Yokohama International Stadium