Whatever the current climate, the Autumn Internationals are back, and we like it.




The international rugby calendar is a matter of serious contention. Since the advent of the World Cup, the expansion of the Five and Tri-nations, and the introduction of annual, trans-global tours to and from the southern hemisphere, the fixture list has become a tad crowded, to say the least. In the past thirteen months, the home nations have played World Cup warm up fixtures, the World Cup itself – with varying degrees of length and intensity – the Six Nations tournament, and three internationals on the other side of the world. Add next summer’s Lions tour into the mix, and the sense of disgruntlement for many is palpable. Players’ unions complain that the congestion is putting too much pressure on already strained physiques. Clubs question the worth of having the sort of international stars that make the European club game what it is, if they are so infrequently available. 

All parties agree that something needs to be done. Talk of moving the Six Nations to April and the creation of a truly coordinated global season are topping agendas of rugby bigwigs the world over. So it is against a backdrop of uncertainty that we see the welcome return – after last year’s World Cup induced hiatus – of one of the undisputed highlights of the global calendar, the Autumn Internationals. Welcome, at least, to us – the sofa-dwelling sports fan – if not to the majority of European club sides.

Throughout November, the European nations will be tackling the behemoths of the South, and what a mouth-watering prospect it is. Not least because the uncertainty currently engulfing world rugby spreads far beyond the boardroom, and onto the pitch. As strange as it may sound just over a year on from another display of near complete southern dominance at the World Cup, this Autumn’s fixture list is wide open. 

The Springboks will arrive off the back of a record mauling at the hands of the All Blacks in this summer’s Rugby Championship, preceded by a nervy 2-1 series win against the Irish. The All Blacks themselves are also in a spot of bother. A recent spate of scandals has plunged a supposedly untouchable, almost deified group of sportsmen into disrepute, peaking last month with star scrum-half Aaron Smith being suspended for sexual misconduct. Whilst he will be back next month to join a team that remains largely peerless on the pitch, it is surely only a matter of time before the cloud of bad publicity surrounding the All Blacks begins to adversely impact on their performances. And then there are the Australians. Their summer has consisted of a whitewash at the hands of England in their own back yard, and a mixed showing in the Rugby Championship.

Contrast this with the home nations – all buoyed by positive summer showings away from home – and we have a tantalising month of high-class rugby in prospect. Regardless of the uncertainty simmering in the executive boxes, the return of the southern elite to European soil is a welcome one indeed. 

Edward Capstick


Add comment

Contact Us

Give us a call or drop by anytime, we endeavor to answer all enquiries within 24 hours.