The Autumn Internationals have now concluded and this means that it’s the perfect time to take a look back over the last few weeks and consider some of the big takeaways from the tests. In particular the form and results from some of the sides who we would typically expect to be strong performers at the Rugby World Cup 2023.
The Wallabies went into their games on the back of underwhelming form and sadly their fives tests did little to inspire or suggest they’re on their way back to their best. Just two wins was definitely below what most would expect from such a strong force in rugby union and the icing on a rather unappealing cake was definitely the loss to Italy in mid-November.
Injuries might be to blame here but Australia will need to tighten up defensively if they’re to be tournament-winning contenders. One shining light – which is something to look forward to at least – is Mark Nawaqanitawase, whose inspired debut on the world stage definitely caught the eye. Hopefully he will play a big part for the Wallabies in France.
In a similar vein to Australia, England have had a poor year and have ended it with a somewhat mixed time during the Autumn Internationals. Although narrow, the defeat to Argentina showed defensive frailties and an attack lacking any real threat. These were again show by the 13-27 loss at Twickenham to South Africa and the England faithful demonstrated their frustrations as boos rang out at full time.
According to reports there are some that are calling for England’s Rugby Football Union to hold talks with Eddie Jones about his future. As such it might be that we see a new coach in place even before the Six Nations in February.
Even with a number of key players missing and narrow losses against France and Ireland, South Africa have perhaps come out of the Autumn Internationals looking the strongest. Their demolitions of Italy and England showed the side learning from their mistakes, and when in full flow, being an attacking tour de force.
As aforementioned, this is without some big stars, so when they do return – and we expect they will for the Rugby World Cup – and they continue this form, it’s likely plenty of punters will be backing the Springboks for glory.
Much like their British counterparts, Wales could be another side that has a new coach well before September. Wayne Pivac’s future is said to ‘be in doubt’ with Warren Gatland apparently set to take over. This comes after a string of losses and an Autumn Internationals to forget.