What Can We Expect From The 2017 Autumn Internationals?
The Autumn Internationals are fast approaching, and we’re all waiting with baited breathe.
It all kicks off on the 4th of November with Japan v Australia and the Barbarians v New Zealand, and it only gets better from there.
Scotland will face Samoa, New Zealand and Australia (again). Wales will tackle Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa. England take on Argentina, Australia and Samoa, while Ireland will play South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.
France and Italy also face New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and Fiji, Argentina and South Africa respectively.
But what can we expect to be the outcome of these fixtures?
Scotland’s form during their summer tour was solid. With victories against Italy and Australia and a narrow 27-22 loss to Fiji in Suva, they really did make a strong statement. Especially considering they were without the likes of Stuart Hogg, Greg Laidlaw and Tommy Seymour due to the Lions Tour. To beat Australia down under was historic, no one can deny that. Their transformation from potential whipping boys of the Six Nations to what they are today is more than impressive. However, with two brutal games against Samoa and the All Blacks on the way, the Scots will have their work cut out for them. Samoa will be a tough, physical game, but the Scots will more than likely win by a decent margin. The All Blacks, given their current form, will almost certainly conquer Murrayfield with the Scots having never beaten them and drawing twice. The Australia match will likely be a close encounter made even more exciting by the recent rivalry between the two ever since that controversial quarter final in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. However, Scotland will likely take the ‘W’ given their home advantage. You can still expect it to be a tight game with only a handful of points between the two. Whilst Scotland are certainly progressing nicely with recent performances, the All Blacks are simply a bridge too far. Although they should definitely look for the win against Australia and Samoa.
Prediction: Wins against Fiji and Australia, Loss against New Zealand
England’s young squad for their Baa Baa’s encounter and tour of Argentina proved to be a winning formula for Eddie Jones and his coaching team. With England going undefeated at home since their 2015 Rugby World Cup losses at the hands of Wales and Australia, and the lacklustre performances of Argentina as well as mixed performances of Australia recently, it seems unlikely England will lose. While Australia have showed flares of greatness with their narrow loss against the All Blacks in Dunedin before a famous victory in Melbourne, Argentina have not shown such performances. Australia are the most likely to beat England at home, however, with a lack of consistency in their quality recently, it seems unlikely they will pull it off.
Prediction: Wins against Argentina, Australia and Samoa
Wales had an interesting time in the Autumn Internationals last year. After being hammered by Australia, and narrowly beating Japan and Argentina, they then beat South Africa with room to spare. This year, they face a much tougher fixture list. They do however, have Warren Gatland back in the head coach’s chair. Wales haven’t beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and with less than perfect performances throughout the year, this will likely remain the case. We can expect that Australia will be a closer affair than last year, but still a Green and Gold victory. South Africa will also be tighter, but will likely end up as a Welsh win. Georgia are the interesting factor here though. Georgia have been searching for the chance show themselves as Six Nations contenders for years and they will search for that opportunity again which makes them dangerous.
Prediction: Wins against South Africa, Georgia. Losses against New Zealand, Australia
Ireland’s Autumn internationals in 2016 were historic! After beating the Springboks during the summer in South Africa, it only got better for the boys in green with their first ever victory over the All Blacks, along with a victory over Australia. After a disappointing Six Nations, the summer tour with a young squad and a challenging fixture list against the USA and Japan proved a success. Whilst it might not be as glamorous as beating the All Blacks, Ireland should expect 3 wins. While the injury list is looking slightly concerning at the moment, with the likes of Garry Ringrose and Jared Payne out of action, it will be a good chance for the likes of Bundee Aki, Chris Farrell, and Adam Byrne prove themselves. The only real danger Joe Schmidt’s men face is underestimating the Fijians, given how determined they are and the unique style in which they play.
Prediction: Wins against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.
On a side note, we can unfortunately expect see Italy suffer losses to Fiji, Argentina and South Africa, however I’d more than happily eat my own words there. France (and the France XV) should also expect losses at the hands of the All Blacks, and what should be two victories against Japan and South Africa, but these could also be proven wrong.