It seems that there has been a lot of drama and misfortune surrounding the 6 Nations this year. There have been injuries, deaths and even a couple of law changes to the game. So, this year’s friendlies could be the most unpredictable to date. However, they are also an opportunity to put the teams to the test.
After a string of injuries and illnesses on both the English and Welsh teams, these autumn friendlies could set the tone for the rest of the 6 Nations. People are already unsure about how capable the current teams are with some of their best players missing and predicting the scores seems like an impossible task at this point.
However, if the teams pull through it could mean a lot more optimism in the home countries and a lot of confidence gained for the team.
One match that highlighted these obstacles was Wales v Australia. Australia were in top form when they played against Wales, winning with 32 points against 8. It seemed the Welsh team suffered quite severely without Sam Warburton and the other injured players. Is this showing that they’re too dependent on their top players, or were they just having a particularly bad day?
Similarly, there is still a lot of speculation as to how England might cope against Australia in December and whether they might fall behind without their injured players. Could this be the first time in a long time that Australia win a match? Will the tension of their old rivalry be rekindled? These friendlies will determine whether or not that air of invincibility has any ground and if it will last.
The international autumn friendlies might also give us insight into the condition of Ireland and tell us whether or not that old World Cup curse is back with a vengeance. In the past they’ve never gone further than the quarter-finals. However, in the friendlies so far they have already battled New Zealand and dominated the field with a stunning score of 40-29, breaking the All Black’s streak of 18 wins in a row.
So far they’ve shown just how well they’ve coped without their second row totem Paul O’Connell, one of the team’s greatest players, as well as O’Mahony, Ross and Healy who have been struck by injuries following this year’s streak of bad luck. If they can keep this up they’ll definitely get far in the 6 Nations.
Scotland have also been demonstrating their capabilities. Despite losing their match against England on November 5th they started the match strong and initially managed an 8-0 lead. It seemed like it was anybody’s game for a while and the luck might just carry into next year.
Overall, these friendlies are a lot more than just a warmup for the teams. So far we’re seeing teams rise up to the challenge and some falling at the first hurdle. Looking at the matches so far, however, there aren’t any wins we can guarantee.
These games are going to tell us who the strong players are and who the strong teams are. Victories are going to lead to confidence and losses to uncertainty. Who do you think will come out on top?