What We Learned About The Four Home Nations This Autumn
Next stop Six Nations.
The November Internationals came to a close over the weekend for three of the four home nations. Wales still have a Test against South Africa to come next weekend, but for the other three, Six Nations preparations are already underway.
Of the four nations, Ireland and Scotland will no doubt be the most pleased after hugely impressive wins over South Africa and Australia respectively. England and Eddie Jones will be pleased with the Australia result, but perhaps a little disappointed with their performances throughout the series overall.
Wales meanwhile are surely worried. Losses to Australia and New Zealand, along with a close win over Georgia sandwiched in the middle, leaves them desperate for a win over the Springboks this weekend.
Here’s what we learned about the home nations this November.
A perfect November for Joe Schmidt’s men as they secured three wins from three. Successful debuts for the likes of Darren Sweetnam, Chris Farrell and Bundee Aki has added to Ireland’s already impressive depth. Players like Andrew Conway, Jacob Stockdale and James Ryan also continued where they left off in the summer with some terrific performances. Overall it’s been a hugely positive window, with Schmidt getting everything he could have possibly wanted. He’s got his three wins, he’s tested out a number of combinations, and gave everyone in squad at least one opportunity to start. A number of his veterans have also returned to form, so all in all it’s been excellent preparation heading into next year’s Six Nations.
Given Eddie Jones’ incredibly high standards we imagine he will be slightly disappointed with how England’s November went. While results are really what matters at the end of the day, and England secured a perfect three from three, we reckon he expected more. A number of players were given rare chances, but didn’t really take them. While of course there has been some positives to take, England didn’t really move forwards during this window.
What a job Gregor Townsend is doing with Scotland. The former Glasgow boss began his reign with an excellent summer series, defeating Australia and has continued that rich run of form in this window. Another win over the Wallabies, coupled with a superb performance against the All Blacks leaves them in great shape heading into the Six Nations. While there may be some question marks over their defence at time, their attacking threat something to behold. While they’re still that little bit behind England and Ireland, they’ve no doubt overtake Wales and France.
Really disappointing series for Wales after heavy losses to Australia and the All Blacks. They also scraped past Georgia with some clever scrum tomfoolery, and while they fielded an inexperienced team, they should be a little worried. Gatland and his side will get another bite at the cherry this weekend with a Test against the Springboks, and while a win won’t exactly save their series, a loss could make it one of the most forgettable in recent memory.