The great European nations have crossed the globe to challenge the leaders of the South. Nice posters for rugby lovers.
The summer season of Test matches begins this weekend, with New Zealanders and Irish, Australians and English, South Africans and Welsh and finally Argentinians and Scots going head-to-head for three Saturdays in a row to fine-tune their squads and fixture plans a bit more than a year from the Mondial 2023 in France. Four games on the schedule this Saturday, after the Blues’ game against Japan (8am). At 9:05 the All Blacks meet Ireland at Eden Park in Auckland, who they defeated in Dublin on November 13 (29-20), a nice revenge for Clover’s XV after his loss in the quarterfinals of the 2019 World Cup ( 46-14).
Two Irish wins in their last four games against the Blacks
After 111 years of dueling between the two nations to the All Blacks’ advantage, victory finally switched sides in 2016 in Chicago, where the men in green won 40-29. Since then, the Irish have won two of their four games against the All Blacks. On the other hand, they have yet to win in New Zealand: the challenge is therefore daunting but doable for Andy Farrell’s charges.
Indeed, the All Blacks will appear weakened on Saturday as three of captain Sam Cane’s teammates were affected by Covid-19 this week: centers David Havili and Jack Goodhue, and winger Will Jordan. And that’s not all: Coach Ian Foster and his two assistants, John Plumtree and Scott McLeod, also tested positive. The NZ FA have had to bring in former Ireland manager (2013-2019) Joe Schmidt to lead this week’s training sessions. Led by their irreplaceable captain Johnny Sexton (105 caps), the Irish must show they can’t usurp their place as the second European team they have achieved during the tournament.
Eight English wins in a row against Australia
Once this match is over, there’s no time to rest before moving on (11:55am) to a promising Australia-England in Perth. Here too the Covid came to spice things up, one of the XV de la Rose’s best players, winger Jonny May, who tested positive on arrival on Australian soil.
The English remain on eight straight wins against the Wallabies, the last on November 13 at Twickenham (32-15). The Australians, led by their emblematic captain Michael Hooper (118 caps), need people to forget that they have chained three defeats during their autumn tour of Europe, against Scotland (15-13), England and Wales (29-28).
The Welsh must revive
Time for a nap and we switch continents to South Africa, where world champions Springboks and fellow Toulonnais Cheslin Kolbe and Eben Etzebeth play the first of their three friendlies against Wales in Pretoria (17:05). Wayne Pivac’s men, who remain in a disappointing fifth place in the tournament, were narrowly defeated by South Africa (23-18) on November 6 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
Finally, to end the day in style, head to Argentina and the northern city of San Salvador de Jujuy, where the Cougars, led by Australian adventurer Michael Cheika for the first time, face off against Scotland. The Argentine selection, made up largely of exiles competing in the most prestigious championships in the world (Top 14, Super Rugby, English Premiership), will take this opportunity to reconnect with their audiences who have no longer played at home. for almost three years.
Test match program on Saturday
- 09:05: New Zealand v Ireland, in Auckland
- 11:55 a.m.: Australia-England, in Perth
- 5:05 p.m.: South Africa – Wales, in Pretoria
- 9:10 p.m .: Argentina – Scotland, in Jujuy