This coming weekend is not officially in the international window but there are a couple of games kicking off.
Japan v New Zealand Maori
Japan are a much improving nation and with the world cup there in 5 years time there is a conceded effort to help them improve. Last year the All Blacks played a test here on the way to Europe for the November Internationals. This year the New Zealand Maori pop in for 2 games before Japan head over to Europe for 2 games against tier two nations.
Japan are currently ranked 11th in the IRB international rankings and perennially the best asian side having been to all the world cups. I’m looking for them to run the Maori close but the Maori are defending a record of 16 test wins from 16 tests since 2003.
New Zealand Maori win
Barbarians v Australia
Australia should rack up a moral boosting win to kickoff the tour and boy do they need it. Beale has been left a a home quite rightly and hopefully had been locked up with a life coach that he respects to sort him out.
Barbarians are basically the New Zealand players not selected for the All Blacks or New Zealand Maori with a few mates. Unfortunately they have Kirwan coaching them so they haven’t a hope of winning. It should be an entertaining game though, the Barbarians will throw it around and Australia aren’t the most suffocating defence.
USA v New Zealand
Sixty two thousand people are going along to see how many points the All Blacks can put on USA. Sorry for being flippant but this one is a no brainer from the prediction point of view. Last year when playing their opening fixture against Japan the All Blacks put 54 points on the 11th ranked team in the world. The USA are ranked 18th…….
The All Blacks will be using it to give some of the fringe players a run out and bring some others back from injury. Still the All Blacks will just be too slick and with Dan Carter coming back from injury, it will keep AIG happy on the star name front.
Away from the prediction side of things, it’s great to see the sellout crowd, now obviously the All Blacks are a big draw but it’s still a big crowd. It’s a good sign of the growth of the game over there. But as Brian Moore wrote this week, until there is a pathway for them to get to the top table, rugby won’t truly establish its self in the American professional sporting market.
New Zealand win
Edit: RFU Championship Select Team v Canada
I didn’t realise that this game was on, if you want to read about it you can on this blog. From a prediction point of view I haven’t really got a clue but I’d go with Canada as the other team is a scratch team.