Rugby: The mid-year internationals

Over the next three weeks there is a veritable feast of international rugby to enjoy, with a range of Northern hemisphere teams taking on the Southern hemisphere powers (and Japan and the US for some weird reason). Let’s have a thread to discuss them.

Wales in New Zealand

Three tests plus one game against the Chiefs. Wales haven’t beaten the All Blacks in my lifetime, and are unlikely to do so this year either. Their best chance is probably to surprise the All Blacks in the first test at Eden Park. Keeping the games respectable will be an achievement in itself.

**Ireland in South Africa **

Three tests. Ireland have never beaten the Springboks in South Africa, but I have a feeling they’re an outside chance to take one of the first two, based on little more than my belief that South Africa are weaker than usual.

England in Australia

Three tests. This looks to be the most competitive match up. Can Eddie Jones coach the English to triumph over his homeland? The Australian super rugby sides have been pretty average this year so I think the Aussies are very beatable. This should be a good series.

France in Argentina

Two tests. France looked poor at the last world cup and Argentina have continued to improve since joining the Rugby Championship. I’m picking Argentina to win both of these fairly comfortably.

Georgia in the Pacific Islands

Tests against Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. Georgia really impressed me at the World Cup, and their hard driving forward play will be in marked contrast to their hosts’ style. Tonga will be out for vengeance after losing to Georgia at the World Cup as well. These matches won’t be as polished as the big nations but I think the Lelos vs the Islanders will all be great tussles.

Scotland in Japan
Two tests. Scotland knocked Japan out of the World Cup after the game of the tournament, and nearly upset Australia as well. The Japanese super rugby side the Sunwolves have been pretty awful at times (having the creepiest mascot in all of sportprobably doesn’t help) and they’ve lost Eddie Jones so I’m picking Scotland to win both of these.

Russia and Italy in Canada and the United States
Four tests in a semi round robin format. Italy have regressed and are in danger of losing both matches. Russia are an unknown quantity to me, but I’m guessing they lose both matches as well.

Nothing beats test rugby.

Aussies still have Pooper(credit to EggChasers podcast) so I think they’ll win at least 2. They are such a force.

Whitewashes on the other two big match ups.

Jaguares(basically Argentina) have looked bad and I’ve always had a soft spot for Les Bleus so hopefully they can win one.

Georgia - Samoa is up in 45 minutes. The Samoan rfu is streaming it on youtube

Wales were outstanding, but only played 65 minutes.

Wallabies will beat Eng easily next

Wales must be bitterly disappointed by the final scoreline. Was a great game though. Australia ripping England to shreds in the first wuarter. The English seem more interested in putting in big hits than anything else.

I caught 20 minutes if the Samoa Georgia game and the last quarter of Fiji Tonga. Both games were tight affairs.

Wow Australia 7 points behind with 8 minutes left. A hell of a game.

Well I wasn’t expecting that outcome after the first 20.

England did very well to turn it around and Aussie indiscipline did for them in the end.

First ever win in Brisbane and the most points ever scored by England against Australia.

Have to give Eddie Jones a huge amount of credit. Lancaster identified the same group of talented players and was able to get them playing well in short bursts but Jones’ decision-making regarding selection and substitution means that they are now better able to adapt and change their approach mid-game.
Big call to go with Farrell over Ford, even bigger call to bring Ford on but who can argue with it?

I also agree with him that, as exciting as the game was, both teams have a heck of a lot of room for improvement. Roll on test no.2.

It seems I seriously underestimated the Northern teams. Ireland beat South Africa with only 14 men and Italy ran Argentina really close. I haven’t seen either game yet but will certainly track down the highlights.

For me, the play of the weekend so far was Crudden’s reverse direction kickoff to Read in the Blacks/Wales game. Great to see the successors to Carter and McCaw work so well together.

Yeah, Cruden was surprisingly effective at times. Was hoping Lima would get the nod for his accuracy on kicking in attack or Barrett for his explosiveness but I was definitely wrong about Cruden. None of them are a Dan Biggar though. When Halfpenny went down I never thought they’d be able to replace him but Biggar is better already I think. Overall Wales played much better than expected.

No idea what happened to the Springboks. Nearly 60 minutes with a man advantage and +2 for 10. Coetzee’s going to get skewered probably but I keep reminding myself this is the first test for the Southern Hemisphere while the North has had a half dozen. Hopefully he gets things turned around.

England and Australia was so fun I ended up rewatching it immediately. Farrell keeps getting better. Itoje was as good as advertised. Better actually. The next two should be epic. I’m just scared that once the Southern teams get a few tests under their belt we’ll see the same imbalance.

Just listened to the EggChasers podcast(Green and Gold Aussie podcast as guests) and David Pocock is out with an eye-socket fracture. George North is out with a hammie. And I imagine Lambie might miss at least the next game. Paddy Jackson was hobbling a bit at the end but haven’t heard anything about him.

The All Blacks selectors have an embarrassment of riches at no.10. I rate Sopoaga slightly ahead of Cruden or Barrett, but all three can do the job well. Cruden’s the incumbent I guess, so unless he’s injured or somehow loses his form I can’t see him being replaced. I can’t remember a similar three way race for that spot.

The second tests in South Africa and Australia are must watches for me. Both series look like becoming absolute classics. Wales losing North to injury is a hell of a shame, I thought he was outstanding for them in the first test. Bye bye sleep. Oh and the Wales v Chiefs game tomorrow night should be fun as well.

Only saw the 2nd half of ABs v Wales and, on the basis of that 40 mins, was surprised Wales were in the game. They were annihilated in every phase of the game in the 2nd half - and the scary thing is that the ABs look like they have room for improvement. Once some of these guys have 50-70 caps in hand, they’re going to be just as unstoppable as ever.

The Ireland result was the most surprising of the weekend - not because Ireland won necessarily (the head to head is 3-3 in their last 6 games against one another) but more the manner of it, down to 14 men for an hour and minus a couple of their first choice due to injury. They had a little wobble when they threw the interception in the last 10 minutes but, otherwise, Ireland looked very secure. The next Test is at altitude and will be a different matter physically, likely, but I thought SA looked pretty weak, all told, and devoid of ideas; credit is due to Ireland being able to squeeze effectively in defence and up front.

England were decent - have seen a lot of comment elsewhere on the Internet putting this down to Australia being poor. Funny how whenever England do well, the opposition are always thought to be not up to scratch. England did a very good job of limiting what Australia were able to do. It looked like they were going to get a real slippering after 15 mins, but once they started to get more ball and squeezed Australia’s ability to generate quick ball when on defence (both Haskell and Itoje were particularly effective at breakdown - the vaunted Australia back row didn’t really put in enough of a shift, in my opinion), they were comfortably the better side. That it wound up being so close is a testament a) to Australia’s ability to take chances when presented them, b) English discipline in not giving away a lot of kickable penalties and c) the fact that it’s a rare international where you dominate the opposition for 80 full mins. I strongly suspect that England may have benefited from having a NH ref. The next game will be reffed by Craig Joubert, so it will be interesting to see what happens then.

Great win again from England today, 7-23 is a crazy score considering the balance of possession but considering they leaked a bunch of tries last week it was great to see such a solid defence.
Australia are capable of throwing it all at any team in the world, could we withstand it? Seems like we could.

The second test between England and Australia was suitably intense. Magnificent defence from England, uninspired attack and poor decision making from Australia made for a hell of a game.

215 tackles by England. Amazing they won.

Ireland-South Africa was epic.

Wales punched above their weight for 50 minutes.

Not sure what the protocol is on YouTube links but all the matches are under Super Rugby and Rugby Time users. Still trying to find Argentina-France. Following rugby in the U.S. is such a pain since Directv dropped channel 490.

Having railed against people finding deficiencies in the opposition when England win, I must say I thought Australia were pretty awful on Saturday. England played great defence but Australia should be capable of creating more than they did with the amount of ball and territory they had. Post the game, England were pretty clear that they want 3-0. Australia will have to play much better than they did on Saturday to avoid this.

Also thought Joubert was pretty kind to England.

Still, England have won both games by double digits. They’ve proved something in this series. Probably that Eddie Jones really is one hell of a coach (and that Maro Itoje is absolutely critical to their team, as he allows that weird back row, with no fetcher in it, to work).

NZ are fucking great. It’s sickening how they can just wheel player after player out. Barrett proving what everyone has been saying (that it’s a lot closer between him and Cruden than selections to this point would indicate) and the quality of the new players in the back row and the outside backs is worrying. The straw I am clutching is that, at the U20 World Championship, England have been to 7 of the last 9 finals (playing Ireland in the upcoming final this week), so, in theory, we’re producing some players of our own. Just hope we don’t coach all the talent out of them.

Ireland putting SA into a big hole and failing to finish was a real disappointment. SA are going to be there for the taking for the foreseeable future by the looks of things. Lots of players with lots to learn at international level and their Rugby Championship could well be fraught. NZ are going to smash the living hell out of them.

cherry pez, I am in the USA and watch the games on ESPN3 online. They run live, and on replay (instantly). But you need a cable provider (I have charter spectrum at my house) and password.

That said, my player of the last weekend was de Klerk, scrumhalf for South Africa. It felt like his timing on the breakdown created, and sustained, that comeback. I could not count the number of times he put the ball exactly where it needed to be, at exactly the right time. I mean, I’m a huge NZ fan and love Smith (I think he is the best #9 in the world right now), but wow, de Klerk was on fire.

Wow. Thanks, HotDogWater. Turns out I’ve had ESPN3 all this time :smack: Going to be a long day of HD rugby with no waiting, searching, etc.

Yeah Buddy! :smiley: Enjoy yesterdays matches, I’d start with SA v Ireland. Great finish, with more heroics from de Klerk.