Big up the ANC! Or something like that. Do you have Autumn Nations Cup fever? Or are you just desperate for some Test rugby? Either way, this should suit.
Welcome along to the start of a new tournament which (hopefully) will only ever happen once in our lifetimes, with your usual autumn schedules returning in the near future.
The new competition has already been disrupted with the news that Sunday’s game between France and Fiji is off, after a number of positive Covid-19 tests in the Fijian camp.
As for this game, boy, Wales desperate need something to cling onto. There’s been plenty of defiance out of the camp this week with Wayne Pivac commenting that training had gone up a notch. It might need to go up a few if Wales are to stop this losing run extending to six matches. Notably, the same XV which was selected to face Scotland before Justin Tipuric pulled out gets another go. Here’s Pivac:
I’m certainly not seeing [unrest] and if it is [there] then the players are very good at hiding it. The group has trained very well and it’s probably been a massive step up from where we’ve been.
When these sorts of things that you mention [defeats and coaches losing their job] happen, you’d expect a response and we’ve certainly seen that in training.
It’s just the volume and the intensity in the session. It’s really stepped up and that’s a positive sign for us. Everybody is really looking forward to getting on the plane this afternoon and getting set-up to play this match on Friday.
Ireland meanwhile lost in Paris but are ticking along well enough under Andy Farrell, who has rung plenty of changes for this, handing a first Test start to Jamison Gibson-Park and a debut to the excellent Leinster wing James Lowe, both converted Kiwis who have been big hits in Ireland with Leinster.
Stick with us as we build up to kick-off at 7pm in Dublin.