Weekend Rugby Review – 14 November

We had a packed weekend of international rugby (both men’s and women’s), Top 14 and Anglo-Welsh cup action. Here is my round-up of it all.

Men’s Internationals

Munster 27 – 14 Maori All Blacks
Barbarians 40 – 7 Fiji
Georgia 22 – 28 Japan
Italy 10 – 68 New Zealand
England 37 – 21 South Africa
Scotland 22 – 23 Australia
France 52 – 8 Samoa
Wales 24 – 20 Argentina
Ireland 52 – 21 Canada
Romania 23 – 10 USA
Tonga 28 – 13 Spain
Germany 24 – 21 Uruguay

7 from 11, not that great and I would have got Munster v Maori wrong if I’d predicted that one as well.

The Maori started the game respecting Foley by laying a shirt with his initials on the centre spot before their Haka. His family came out to collect the shirt and then it was game on. Munster defended ferociously and played the conditions better where they were great under the high ball. The Maori’s offloading game clicked a couple of times but on the whole Munster controlled things and deservedly won the day. It was telling that the Maori were missing the All Blacks squad players they were lent in Chicago and that showed in their quality.

The Barbarians finished their November tour with another win over Fiji. They were in control from the off. It’s a hard time for the Barbarians who are having to earn their place in the grand scheme of things. Their draw with South Africa and wins over the Czech Republic and Fiji help with that. Fiji look like a side that doesn’t get much time together and lack the resources of other countries.

Georgia made all the running but came up short. This was a massive result for Japan who are a very inexperienced side and many of us expected the reverse result. The Georgians made twice the runs and meters will ball. However they turned the ball over 20 times and if you can’t keep hold of it you can’t score.

The All Blacks bounced back as expected against Italy. The disappointing thing was that Italy didn’t want to play. They kicked the ball aimlessly down the pitch to the All Blacks back 3. They weren’t getting the ball out or finding grass which meant the ball was run back at them and that was always going to mean lots of points.

England maintained their winning streak and have gone 10 game unbeaten now this year. We saw an expansion of England’s attacking play that put May in the corner for the first try. Youngs also put his hand up for Lions selection with 2 outrageous dummies to breakthrough the South African defence and setup 2 tries. South African supporters are very disappointed with the way their teams has been performing and the gap was bigger that then score suggests. The Boks recruited new assistant coaches prior to this tour and it will take time for them to implement their plans. What’s more worrying is that the players seem to disagree on the best game plan.

Scotland came up just short as they attempted to gain revenge on their quarter-final loss at the rugby world cup last year. Scotland looked more impressive with Russell pulling the strings and Jones looking good at centre. But Scotland have a history of doing well in the autumn and they disappointing in the 6 Nations. Australia also showed some good attacking play but missed too many key tackles. Also Skelton picked up another senseless yellow card for leading with the shoulder into a ruck. He is a card magnet no matter how good a player he is.

France put in an impressive performance with a big win over Samoa. Is this a renaissance of French play with backs running with freedom? We won’t know until they come up against tougher opposition. Samoa are another of those sides that are hampered by a lack of preparation and resources.

Wales took advantage when Argentina lost a man to the bin but the Pumas came back and scored when they were still down to 14 men. That was the take of this game with elements of good stuff surrounded by mediocrity. Argentina were poor missing 25% of their tackles but Wales weren’t good enough to take advantage. In the end this went right down to the wire.

Ireland’s second string and those coming back from injury or suspension had too much class for Canada as we all expected. Romania got a narrow victory over the USA, for all the positivity coming out of the USA via having a professional league and the big games it will take time for that to filter down to the national team performances. Tonga got the expected win over Spain but Germany managed a huge win. Uruguay were at the Rugby World Cup last year and were ranking 19th on the world compared to Germany in 26th. This win takes Germany to their highest ever ranking of 23rd.

Women’s Internationals

England 12 – 10 Ireland
Wales 43 – 5 UK Armed Forces

England won 12-10 in clash against Ireland in Dublin on Sunday with tries scored by Rocky Clark and Izzy Noel-Smith plus a conversion from Katy McLean. All of Ireland’s points came from Nora Stapleton via a try and a penalty. It was a close match that could have gone either way. England came from behind scoring at 71st minute to take lead. Ireland pressured near their try line in the last 5 mins. England are now 2-0 in 4 match Autumn Test Series. Not the prettiest of wins, both very close. New Zealand up next at The Stoop and Ireland will host Canada in Dublin on Saturday, Nov. 19th.

Rocky Clark passed Jason Leonard to become the most capped England player with 115 and is now tied with Donna Kennedy of Scotland for the all-time women’s International caps record.

Wales beat UK Armed Forces 43-5 on Remembrance Day, in a friendly. Wales tires were scored by Dyddgu Hywel, Mel Clay (2), Sioned Harries, Alisha Butchers, Jess Kavanagh-Williams and Elen Evans. Elinor Snowsill knocked over 4 conversions and picked up player of the match. Charlie Murray of the RAF got the Forces solitary reply who happens to be a Welsh international herself. Wales don’t have any official Autumn Tests scheduled, so this was an uncapped match. But it should be noted that their only two scheduled matches before next spring’s Six Nations are this one and Scotland last weekend. From here they have the 6 Nations and then the World Cup next summer.

A big thank you to Women’s Rugby Comp for these updates, follow them @WomRugbyComp on Twitter.

Top 14

Pau 26 – 17 Racing Metro 92
Montpellier 25 – 20 Lyon
Castres 32 – 13 Brive
Grenoble 22 – 24 Bordeaux Begles
Bayonne 22 – 14 Clermont Auvergne
La Rochelle 25 – 19 Toulouse
Toulon 31 – 12 Stade Francais

5 form 7, Racing and Clermont losing were big upsets even if they were away.

Clermont slipping up allowed La Rochelle to close within 2 points of the table leaders. Toulon and Montpellier are a further 3 points back. At the bottom of the table Bayonne’s win sees them climb above Grenoble but both are 7 points behind Stade who got overtaken by Pau.

Anglo-Welsh Cup

Scarlets 44 – 21 Bath Rugby
Ospreys 12 – 15 Harlequins
Bristol Rugby 26 – 11 Sale Sharks
Saracens 29 – 18 Newcastle Falcons
Northampton Saints 19 – 13 Gloucester Rugby
Leicester Tigers 42 – 3 Newport Gwent Dragons
Wasps 62 – 10 Worcester Warriors
Exeter Chiefs 62 – 25 Cardiff Blues

5 from 8, I didn’t see those blowouts coming at the end of the weekend.

In Pool 1 Saints got their second victory but the lack of bonus points means that they are only 1 point ahead of Saracens. Bath and Dragons are probably out of it already.

Pool 2 is a close affair with Exeter and Worcester on 5 points and Sale just 1 point back. Ospreys haven’t got any points but do have game in hand so could get back into it.

Pool 3 sees Quins going well with Wasps 2 points back. Britons first win of the season sees them a further point back but I can’t see them picking up the results they will need over the next 2 games to qualify. Finally Cardiff were on the end of that hiding from Exeter and are probably out of it even with a game in hand.

Finally Pool 4 sees Tigers out if front on 9 points and current to seeds in the competition. Gloucester are 3 points back but Scarlet another 1 back have a game in hand so could be the to challengers. Falcons are out of this competition having not picked up any points.

#RugbyChat

Join the #RugbyChat on twitter for an hour of discussion about the action this weekend. If you can’t make the hour then you can still give your view as the conversation keeps going over the following day.

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