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Autumn Internationals!

The clocks have changed, the mercury is dropping, the need to turn your headlights on when leaving work has arrived, so let us put all those “glorious” things behind us and look forward to something altogether more exciting! It is time for the Autumn Internationals and boy oh boy am I looking forward to this.

These will be an exciting few weeks and I for one cannot wait to see how the northern hemisphere are going to fair after the fantastic summer we had on the other side of the world. We all know that there was obviously a stand out result from the summer tests and now the Welsh have got to put their punishing experience against the Kiwis behind them and test their mettle against an Australia side that are going to be looking for some strong results after a series white wash by England (still sounds good).

The home support that the Welsh are going to receive will obviously be a massive boost to their chances of taking on the Wallabies and putting on a firm display to confirm that the balance of power in Rugby Union has swung north. It’s only been 8 years since they last took the Aussies to task, so they will be looking to seize the opportunity with both hands.

Michael Cheika, is a man on a mission at the moment, he is smarting from various humiliations at the helm of what has been considered as one of Rugby’s super powers and he needs to turn this around and start giving both the Australian fans and more over the worlds media a reason to believe in the green and gold again. We might see a change from the usual fast hands and swift attack approach that Australia have shown for years and they might (just might) concentrate on not shipping so many points across their own wash. Wales have not been try scoring machines but they have been grinding out victories which the Australians have got to be mindful of.

Ireland are going to have a tough old time against an absolutely dominant New Zealand outfit who are showing no signs of weakness anywhere in their game, and I for one don’t fancy the chances of the North here. England are currently ranked number two in the world, and I don’t think I would even fancy their chances at holding back the Kiwis at the moment.

South Africa are in dire straits and they are not looking like a side that should maintain their position as the fourth ranked team in the world and as ex-fly-half and world cup winner Joel Stransky has put said that watching SA at the moment is “a proper slap in the face”, you know things are not going great guns at the moment. You can cut them a bit of slack on their last defeat as they were playing NZ, but to be steam rollered by 57-15 is not good for a top four side. Their best opportunity of having a good time will be against the Baa baa’s but when it comes to crunch time, I think Wales will beat them and looking at the current England setup, well you’d be forgiven for at least hoping they stand half a chance of putting a similar score that Kiwis did on them.

The last game from this weekend, I am actually genuinely excited about watching. Japan are emerging in this game at what is realistically the third tier in terms of international capability. They’ve jumped Italy in the world rankings, and they are going to be hunting down Argentina any time soon if they continue in the same manner. We know that they are a little inconsistent at the moment, but the heart they show when playing the game is truly fantastic. They bloodied the nose of South Africa in the last World Cup, and I cant see any reason why they wouldn’t be able to do the same against Argentina during these internationals. It is great to see new countries getting into the game and growing into a position where they are mixing it up the top and I hope that this helps other countries look at expanding the rugby family and making a bigger name for the sport on the World stage.

That’s about it for this week. Enjoy the rugby and make the most of the cold nights, get the fire on, get a brew in and get the telly going.

Phil.