Another massive weekend of international rugby with the odd domestic league still playing. Here’s my round-up of all the action.
Tonga 20 – 23 Georgia
Fiji 26 – 16 Samoa
New Zealand 36 – 22 Wales
Australia 7 – 23 England
Japan 13 – 26 Scotland
Spain 0 – 16 Uruguay
South Africa 32 – 26 Ireland
Argentina XV 8 – 20 Romania
Canada 46 – 21 Russia
USA 20 – 24 Italy
Argentina 30 – 19 France
9 from 11, I misjudged the 2 games in Bucharest.
Georgia played out their second game against the Pacific Islands and improved on their draw of last weekend to claim a narrow win. Next weekend they will face Fiji who have just claimed the Pacific Nations Cup for the second year running. Just as importantly they are 2 wins closer to qualifying for the Rugby World Cup in Japan. The Pacific Nations Cup this year and next year forms part of the qualification process for Japan. It was another win after going behind in the first half but they won’t worry about that.
New Zealand secured the series win over Wales with another victory that was highly influenced by the bench. Especially in the first half Wales mixed it up well between kicking and playing with ball in hand. The ABs did look comfortable defending but it was still good to see Wales putting it to them. In the second half the Welsh just looked knackered and fall off a couple of tackles. When you do that the ABs will put on 4 tries and the game is gone. At least the Welsh did come back with a couple of tries one which was very good. You can listen to my summary of the game on The Front Row podcast.
England got their necks in front and then defended with some very good tactical kicking keeping Australia in parts of the pitch they didn’t want to be in. For my mind t got too 1 dimensional for England in the second half but it worked. At the time I thought that the dam was going to burst but they held up wave after wave of Wallabies to win the day. This really has been a couching contest that Eddie has won hands down.
Japan fell to Scotland with discipline letting them down. Scotland also have enhanced their feel good factor that has been building since the Rugby World Cup. Uruguay recovered from a poor performance against Romania last weekend to see off Spain. Romania continued their good form with a win over an Argentine 15 who did well in the America Rugby Championship earlier this year.
Ireland continued where they left off from the first test and were looking good leading 3-19. Then the altitude and Bok bench turned things around as the Irish looked out on their feet. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Boks aren’t firing on all cylinders as they go through a transformation of style under a new coach.
Canada got the expected win over Russia and the USA were beaten narrowly by Italy. Finally Argentina saw off France. I made a flippant comment on #RugbyChat about not taking French test seriously anymore. It was rightly pointe out that the players take it seriously and I do agree. My problem is with the structure of rugby in France with the Top14 finals still taking place there are players missing from this tour. Also during the 6 Nations the French players return to their clubs and play in the rest weekends. All the other countries retain their players so that they can prepare and rest properly. Hopefully a new agreement between the clubs and union will see things improve next season.
World Rugby U20s Championship
Argentina U20 39 – 20 Japan U20
Scotland U20 27 – 19 Italy U20
Ireland U20 35 – 7 Georgia U20
New Zealand U20 18 – 17 Wales U20
England U20 17 – 13 Australia U20
South Africa U20 40 – 31 France U20
6 from 6, the one round where there wasn’t a surprise.
Georgia U20 18 – 17 Italy U20
New Zealand U20 71 – 12 Wales U20
Ireland U20 37 – 7 Argentina U20
France U20 41 – 27 Japan U20
Scotland U20 19 – 35 Australia U20
England U20 39 – 17 South Africa U20
5 from 6, as Australia finally came good.
In the finals Italy will battle it out with Japan to see who gets relegated and replaced by Samoa next year. In the grand final the hosts England will take on Ireland who are in their first final. The rest of the teams will be battling out the lower seedings for next year’s championship in Georgia.
Clermont Auvergne 33 – 34 Racing Metro 92
Toulon 27 – 18 Montpellier
Toulon will face Racing after some of the craziest play you’ll see to win it with 2 intercepts in a few seconds leading to the winning try in extra time.
San Diego 19 – 24 San Francisco
Denver 27 – 48 Ohio
San Francisco got their second win on the trot after 5 straight losses and clearly have turned things round. San Diego have now lost 3 on the bounce and have dropped 4 points behind Ohio in the table. Denver lost their first game of the season but still sit top on games won. Ohio have caught then on points but have played 1 more game. Obviously all the teams are missing their USA and Canadian internationals during this window and we will see how that impacts things in July.
Rio 7s Qualifying
Spain cause a major upset in Monaco by beating Samoa in the final of the Men’s Repechage to claim the final Rio Olympics place. Canada who were expected to challenge had a disappointing weekend finishing in 5th.
Next weekend sees the Women’s Repechage with 16 teams fighting it out for the last spot. Russia are the top seeds but Ireland and Spain who are both core teams in the World Series will be challenging.
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