November is always a month full of International Rugby. The might of the southern hemisphere face off against their northern counterparts as the Rugby World Cup 2019 draws ever closer.
We have gathered together a panel of Rugby bloggers, each looking forward to their respective nations campaigns over the coming month.
So seemingly as per usual, England head into a daunting set of autumn tests shorn of over a dozen players through injury, suspension and *ahem* a lack of form from the Premiership player of the month.
They will be desiring 3 wins from the 4 and with the much vaunted battle of the ‘big 2’ against the All Blacks, having lost all of it’s shine due to England’s poor 2017/18, a good showing will be the best we can hope for in that game.
It’s too close to the World Cup to talk about the possibilities of Eddie Jones getting the boot, but if England only end up with 1 win in 4 (I’ll stake a claim that they will beat Japan) the question will be asked, by the pundits if not by the RFU. The games against the Boks and the Aussies will be competitive and tight, but losses are unthinkable if England truly fancy their world cup chances.
I predict it’ll be 2 wins, 1 close loss and a mullering off of the Kiwis.
The pressure is certainly on the Rose this autumn.
Rich Church-Keen – @RichC_K on Twitter
Nov 3 – England v South Africa – Twickenham – 1500
Nov 10 – England v New Zealand – Twickenham – 1500
Nov 17 – England v Japan – Twickenham – 1500
Nov24 – England v Australia – Twickenham – 1500
Watching Scotland in the Autumn Tests is always an exciting time, a bit like Forrest & his box of chocolates, ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’.
This 4 test block is hard to predict. Wales in Wales hasn’t been much fun recently, Warren Gatland seems to have the magic touch against us. The Doddie Weir cup might give the game an edge for the Scottish players, his presence gave a lift last year against NZ at home. Gregor Townsend will want to win for his mate. The Scottish pack will be determined to dominate the set piece and produce front foot ball for a dangerous back line. It could be a high scoring game. Home to Murrayfield for the visit of everyone’s favourite 2nd team, Fiji. It will be a brilliant, action packed Fijian squad who will be desperate to perform, especially Big Bill Mata who is playing at home! Scotland should win, but it will be an awesome spectacle! It will be an awesome highlights reel! The Springboks will want to produce a result and are travelling with the World Cup in their sights. The battle up front will be HUGE. If Scotland can get to this game without any major injuries and the forwards perform, it could be a big result! By the time Argentina arrive a lot will have happened! 3 physical battles will take their toll.
The plan will be to give time and experience to the whole squad, who knows what the 23 will look like by the time we get there. But the same goes for Los Pumas, it will be a gruelling tour. This could be the climax to a memorable Autumn for Scotland or the end to the usual crazy rollercoaster we are used to from our National team!
Look out for… Stuart McInally becoming the best hooker on the planet. Blair Kinghorn being giving the 15 shirt and tearing it up! Darcy Graham getting his first cap and singling out the biggest player in the opposition for his Maori side step. The battle for number 9 will be fierce, George Horne is keen for some fun.
Finn Russell & Adam Hastings are ready to strut their stuff.
Bruce Aitchison – @happyeggshaped on Twitter
Nov 3 – Wales v Scotland – Principality Stadium – 1445
Nov 10 – Scotland v Fiji – BT Murrayfield – 1430
Nov 17 – Scotland v South Africa – BT Murrayfield – 1720
Nov 24 – Scotland v Argentina – BT Murrayfield – 1430
Wales face 4 teams as usual this Autumn but unlike previous campaigns where we have faced SH teams this year we will also be playing Scotland in a match and playing for The Doddie Weir Cup and before the game has kicked of has caused controversy as Both unions saying that no money from the game would be given to the foundation but both unions have now agreed that they will now make a donation to the charity after public outcry from fans and media, as for the game I can see Wales winning as we have too much strength in depth particularly in the forwards, Wales by 12.
Next up we face Australia who we haven’t beaten in the last 13 attempts with our last win in November 2008, this Autumn wales have the best opportunity put this right as Australia have had a poor Rugby Championship and it would be a major moral boost for wales to win as we are both in the same RWC2019 group, but as usual I predict a tight game with only a few points in it but I can see Wales winning by 5.
Next up are the hard hitting Tongans, Wales should win this battle but they are a proud nation and will play like they always do making hard hitting tackles and will try and disrupt the Welsh scrum, Wales by 18.
South Africa will be the hardest opponents this Autumn they have been getting better with every game beating the All Blacks in The Rugby Championship and showing what a good team they are coming a totally different team wales beat in the summer.
It will be a great game to watch but I can’t see wales winning so I predict RSA by 15 points.
Gareth Jones – @rugbywal on Twitter
Nov 3 – Wales v Scotland – Principality Stadium – 1445
Nov 10 – Wales v Australia – Principality Stadium – 1720
Nov 17 – Wales v Tonga – Principality Stadium – 1430
Nov 24 – Wales v South Africa – Principality Stadium – 1720
Ireland are heading into the autumn internationals as heavy favourites in three of the four games, with massive hype surrounding the game against New Zealand. Ireland have enjoyed a successful 2018 thus far, celebrating a Grand Slam and a Series win down under, but it’s the All Blacks’ Test that will act as a litmus test gearing towards next year’s RWC.
Having only beaten the kiwis once in their history, Irish fans will expect their team to come out on top in the opening games against Italy and Argentina, but pray they are not pyrrhic victories. Conor Murray is the only notable absentee from the squad, but it provides Joe Schmidt with a wonderful opening to see how McGrath, Cooney, or Marmion cope against the best team in the world. All three outhalves (Sexton, Carbery, and Byrne) have racked up much needed game time heading towards the Tests and it will be interesting to see how many games Byrne and Carbery will start; Sexton will more than likely start against Argentina and the All Blacks.
It is important to remember this is the best Irish team in history, and one of the main reasons behind their success is the depth of their squad. To be able to travel to Chicago to face Italy while leaving leaders such as Sexton and Best at home is a luxury, and to have the opportunity to further develop partnerships between key positions is an added bonus.
Overall, unless the script is drastically changed, Irish fans can look forward to three victories and be quietly confident of a fourth.
Nov 3 – Ireland v Italy – Soilder Field, Chicago – 2000
Nov 10 – Ireland v Argentina – Aviva Stadium – 1830
Nov 17 – Ireland v New Zealand – Aviva Stadium – 1900
Nov 24 – Ireland v USA – Aviva Stadium – 1830
We cannot wait for the action to begin on Saturday & we want to thank of our panelists for their contribution to this blog. Follow them all on Twitter!
Don’t forget that their is local rugby being played all across the land, go out and support your local clubs this Autumn. Our clubs need all the support they can get, support your country and support your local club at the same time.