Michael Cheika racked up his 50th game as Australia’s national rugby union head coach with defeat to bitter rivals New Zealand in their fortress, Eden Park.
The Wallabies have never beaten the All Blacks outside of Australia under their current boss, winning just two of 11 encounters with Cheika at the helm. Their nine defeats to New Zealand include the 2015 Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham.
Although odds-on favourites with bet365 to win their pool at next year’s tournament, the Wallabies are now as big as 8/1 in the rugby union betting on an outright World Cup win which suggests Cheika has plenty of work to do in the next 12 months.
Having reached the milestone of 50 matches in charge, Australia’s head coach will surpass one of his predecessors – current England boss and Tasmania native Eddie Jones – in terms of number of Tests with the Wallabies by the end of 2018.
This is the perfect time to analyse Cheika by numbers. Some of the stats are cause for concern, like the New Zealand one above, among proud Australians but others offer signs of encouragement for a team that has always ranked among the top five rugby union nations on Earth with Cheika in charge.
If an 18 per cent win ratio against the All Blacks doesn’t look great, then perhaps Australia have fared better against the best from the Northern Hemisphere? Well, yes and no.
Cheika has masterminded just one victory in seven attempts against England, though that gratifyingly came when eliminating the last Rugby World Cup hosts in their own backyard. That cannot belie the disappointing of a Red Rose whitewash Down Under with the Tasmanian devil, Jones, coming back to haunt his home country the following summer.
While a 14 per cent win rate against England is another poor stat for Cheika to contend with, one victory in five against current Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland is a third. Buoyed by their dominance of that competition during the Northern Hemisphere’s late winter and early spring, the Irish duly recorded a first Test series win in Australia for almost 40 years in June.
When it comes to Wales, at least, Cheika appears to have Warren Gatland’s number with a perfect four wins out of four against the Dragons. The Wallabies are also on a strike rate of 50 per cent against both France and Scotland, who are next to them in the rugby union world rankings going into the next round of Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship matches.
The most curious Australia stat of all under Cheika relates to South Africa, however. He has only lost to the rainbow nation once, yet bested the Springboks twice in five Tests and this is because a rugby rarity of two draws also makes up the record.
Spoils were shared between the Wallabies and South Africa in both of their Rugby Championship meetings in 2017. And, as for Argentina, Australia have won all six encounters with the Pumas with Cheika in charge.