Almanac Rugby: Autumn Nations Series Wrap




The annual sojourn of Southern Hemisphere rugby teams to Europe is just about done. I’m writing this before the last game (Ireland v Argentina) takes place but I’ll assume the Irish get the chocolates.



In recent years, the marketing gurus at World Rugby have decided to give this tradition the veneer of being a competition rather than merely a series of games. Accordingly, this year’s event had four rounds despite the first one sparking little interest when Scotland routed Tonga and the All Blacks indulged in their ritual of humiliating the Welsh in Cardiff.



Round 2 looked like a proper kickoff when all of the Six Nations teams hosted games. The All Blacks got another gimme with Italy, while the Springboks and Pumas had close encounters. South Africa got over the line with the hapless Welsh, and Argentina fought hard against a below-par French unit to lose narrowly. The Wallabies, meanwhile, were a far less cohesive outfit than what they displayed in the Rugby Championship and fell two points short against Scotland.



The major games of Round 3 were the Boks showing us how to beat the Scots and the Irish showing us how to beat the All Blacks. The plucky men in green were quite superb in a dominant performance. Ireland only notched their first-ever win over the ABs five years ago. They’ve now beaten them in three out of the last five encounters. This is the most dramatic reversal of fortune in any rivalry in the game’s history, I posit.



At Twickenham, the English played within themselves but never looked like losing to the Wallabies. Eddie Jones is still yet to lose one against his old team.



Round 4 this weekend has rounded things out. The Poms lifted a notch to see off the Springboks and the French beat the All Blacks in Paris for the first time in almost half a century. This latter affair was a showcase of rugby. All the skills, excitement and drama that make this sport so engrossing were on display.



As for the Wallabies? In a scrappy, error-ridden game they lost to the Welsh. Their ‘half-century’ statistic is certainly less impressive than the French’s. It has been 45 years since the Wallabies walked away from a European tour without a win. Dave Rennie has a lot to do over the summer. The squad cobbled together for this tour had more holes than Swiss cheese. Our game plan was also just not fit for purpose.



Really, all of the host nations can hold their heads high, except of course for the perennial joke that is Italian rugby. With the interlopers, I don’t think any of them will be happy. The Springboks showed the most gumption but, as a marker for the 2023 World Cup, the mandarins of the game up north will be grinning from ear to ear right now.



For us down the other end of the world, let’s take this as a fishing expedition. We didn’t catch a lot but we’ll pull the rods out again next year with hopes of bagging a lot more. God, I hope they’re biting by then!




We’ll do our best to publish two books in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 and the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season(title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries HERE.

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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.


  1. Thanks Brian.
    I must say that I found the Ireland v All Blacks contest far more entertaining than anything the Wallabies’ games dished up. The Wallabies have a lot of ground to make up between now and the next northern autumn, let alone 2023.

  2. Cheers for the wrap up, Brian. I know it’s almost a broken record at this stage, but whither the Wallabies from here?

  3. Rugby is at its best when the French run the ball. What we saw at Parc de Paris was perhaps the best international rugby match for nearly 2 decades. I encourage everyone to take it in and it’s not often the All Blacks lose two in a row.

    Australia was robbed at Cardiff Arms Park. Rugby is often ruined by poor officiating and this Test was a prime example. Argentina were disappointing against Ireland, who were still buoyant from last week’s win over New Zealand.

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