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It's finally happened!

Since the last time England beat South Africa, we have seen the launch of the iPhone, Northern Rock nationalised, the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers, a double dip recession, the first black president, Star Wars has been laid to rest and reincarnated and Britain has decided to leave the EU. Only now have we managed to beat the Boks again.

You cannot begin to imagine the joy that last weekend provided for me. Having a decade long reign as the last Englishman to score a winning try against South Africa is not something you want hanging over you for ten years. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice feeling to be the last person to have stuck one on a team but you would infinitely prefer the country to succeed and give the fans something to cheer about, and boy did England provide that on Saturday.

I look forward to every England game more and more at the moment, as, although we all know that they will eventually lose, you have to ask yourself to who? It could be a complete wildcard who just catches us on a bad day, or it could be down to a clash of the giants. Right now, your money would be on the All Blacks or Aussies who are certainly going to want some payback for the summer tour, but what with Ireland seeing off New Zealand and Scotland making a pretty good fist of their game against Australia (told you that defence was coming together nicely), you wouldn’t give any of them the instantaneous nod that you would have just a year ago.

It's good, I like it. Let’s move on to this week.

England and Fiji should be a good game, the Fijians are showing plenty of heart and skill on the international stage and although they are holding steady at that number 11 spot in the world rankings, they have the capacity to play some attractive rugby and put higher ranked teams under pressure given the right circumstances. Do I think they’ll give England any issues this weekend? Not really, no; we have some injury niggles, and a couple of mix ups in the squad this weekend, but it is great opportunity for Eddie to test the mettle of some of those fringe players, and give them a chance to see what they have to say for themselves.

South Africa are going to want to put some demons to rest at the weekend, and if they don’t manage to pull a convincing victory over the Italians, then you can probably declare an official state of emergency with rugby in SA. There isn’t too much more to say about this. It is a must win game for South Africa.

Scotland Argentina is going to be an absolute humdinger of a game, we saw the Scots perform well against Australia last weekend and they are going to give absolutely everything against their closest ranked rivals in the game. Argentina have caused plenty of upsets in the past and I cant imagine that they will go quietly into the night, they have got dangerous strike runners, have a knack of keeping the ball alive and attack from all over the field. They are world class, but Scotland have just been getting better and better. One to watch for certain.

Ireland Vs New Zealand – Seconds out! Round two! You can expect fireworks from this game if nothing else. New Zealand will be smarting hard from their defeat to these guys no less than two weeks ago, so lets go round again and see how comes out on top! I'd love to see the Irish do it again, but would you want to be staring down the shotgun barrell of a very fired up NZ first XV? I doubt it, but no one shys away from a challenge and I expect the Irish to go into this one swinging.

I’m making absolutely no predictions about this game, no one saw the last result coming, and I’ve no idea what will come out of this one.

I like the way that the game is progressing in Japan at the moment and although there is a degree of expectation weighing on the shoulder of the Welsh for this game, you wouldn’t put it past Japan to cause an upset. They have built from very little and they have done it in such a way that the correct foundations are being laid for a bright future in the game. Take it back ten years, and Japan were 18th or thereabouts in the World Rankings, and now they are serious contenders for a spot in the top ten. In terms of the last decade, they’re definitely more Apple, than Lehman Brothers…

Finally on the radar for this weekend is the France Australia, game. On any given day you’d have to back the Australians in this game, but they have shown chinks in the armour all the way through from that series white wash in the summer. They might have taken names against the Welsh, but this is one solid performance in a string of fairly mediocre showings of late. Scotland ran them to a 1 point victory, and considering that France sit two positions higher than Scotland in the rankings, you’d have to say “why not?” but then again, Wales sit above France, so the better question might be “why?”. We’ll see, Australia have been misfiring, France have not been good against them historically, its all on the table. It has been a while since the two have locked horns, but with records 17 wins to 4 in favour of the Aussies, you might tip the balance in their favour.

We’re in for a good weekend of rugby, the only trouble is, they’re all on Saturday and five are time clashes. Set the box to record, the sofa’s going to have a dent in it come midnight!

Have a good weekend.

 Phil.

 

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