Walsh demands accountability after woeful World Cup

Rugby World Cup 7s - Mens
by Sam Phillips

Australian Sevens coach Tim Walsh has slammed his side after a woeful weekend in San Francisco, pointing to an absence of accountability within the team.

The scathing assessment came in the wake of another shock loss - this time at the hands of Ireland, who aren't on the World Series nor full-time Sevens players.

Their defeat relegated them to a 10th-place finish at the World Cup.

"There's a big accountability and standards issue within the squad," Walsh told RUGBY.com.au.

"A lot of it has been excuses around various different things as opposed to taking accountability and ownership of it.

"From now on we are accountable for the result, we are accountable for the performance, win or lose.

"That's how we're measured and that's our message going forward.Tim Walsh won't offer any excuses for his side's poor showing in San Francisco. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We are responsible - nobody else - and we have the players and the supporters and the facilities to perform at our best and our best is going to be on the podium."

The performance against Ireland was void of any serious physicality, composure and rugby smarts and Walsh highlighted as much.

"We aren't smart enough to think on our feet and not composed enough to give us a chance to win," he said.

"You don't look out there and see composure and players that are in control.

"It's frantic and unfortunately that's the nature of Sevens.

"I don't know how many times we've said it - out of six games at least half of them are going to be tight.

"So to be able to control it, to be able to stay composed and to perform the basic fundamentals is a non-negotiable.

"Otherwise, you find yourself on the wrong end of it."It was tough going all weekend for Lewis Holland and the Australians. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyLacklustre defence was a glaring weakness all weekend and an inability to claim 50-50 ball at restarts also kept the Australians on the back foot.

"Defence is the big issue and when you look at the whole season, really, we're just leaking tries," Walsh said.

"What was disappointing there (against Ireland) and through the whole tournament was our restart retention capabilities.

"The ability to be smart and position yourself or set pods in places.

"Just individually having the ownership and skill to at least have the ball and when you have it, look after it.

"It's a pretty simple game when you look at it but it's gruelling - it's bloody hard."

Walsh offered no excuses for the weekend's showing, questioning his team's composure in the wake of the 10th-place finish.

"I think we have got some good attackers, some good potent weapons and we have players around the park that can do different things," he said.

"We just aren't putting it together - we aren't playing together.The Australians have no issue scoring points. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"The attack side we are quick, we are elusive but if you don't have composure, it negates that."

Walsh also hinted at a revamped approach to the preseason after his players ran out of steam at the end of this season.

"We were like melted candles," he said.

"You look at the season these boys have been through - they were travelling all around the world, didn't really have a preseason and then we were hitting tournaments.

"The program as a whole targeted Sydney, the Comm Games and the World Cup. 

"You're trying to find a peak performance or an energy level for those events and that was the goal from a program point of view.

"We're going to have a decent break and a very strong preseason and we'll go into a season where every tournament counts.

"There are ebbs and flows and squad rotation and different strategies and peaking different players at different times but we won't be voicing targeted tournaments.

"It will be taking every tournament on its merit and doing everything we can."

Walsh must find the form which guided the Australians to a fourth place finish on the World Series fast, as an Olympic qualification year awaits.

Finish any lower than fourth and the Aussies will have to qualify through either the Oceania tournament or world repechage - a far from desirable outcome.

Top four will not be the goal Walsh sets his sights on, though, determined to take the team from the current doldrums to the top of the world.

"Our goal is to win it," he said.

"That sounds ambitious but that's what we want to do.

"We are judged on results - that's the reality of the job and sports and that's what the Australian public wants.

"We have to make sure that our best performance is going to put us there."