Welsh and Irish rugby union fans will be cheering their teams on tomorrow in first of the 2016 Autumn Internationals. With silverware at stake in the Wales v Australia match, in the form of the James Bevan Trophy, and national pride on the line in the Ireland v New Zealand tie, there’s plenty to play for.
Wales v Australia – Can the Dragons Dominate or Will it be a Win for the Wallabies?
The Dragons will be hoping to wallop the Wallabies at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, despite the fact that their captain, Sam Warburton, is unable to play. Earlier this week, Shaun Edwards, the Welsh defence coach, confirmed that the Cardiff Blues flanker had been released to his club, following a neck injury. On Wednesday, Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones was also ruled out, following the death of his father, Tim, a former Swansea RFC player.
The Welsh squad will be desperate to win the match, which kicks off at 14.30, as they haven’t beaten the Aussies for eight years. What’s more, a victory would help to boost their world ranking. The Dragons are currently in fifth place, but if they can get into the top four, they would be amongst the top seeds for the 2019 Rugby Union World Cup. This could help them to avoid a difficult draw and improve their chances of getting their hands on the most famous of rugby trophies, the glittering Webb Ellis Cup, for the first time.
“We’re aiming to be in that top four – there will be a big effort from the boys,” Edwards told the Telegraph. “That would be mission accomplished with the World Cup draw on the horizon.”
According to Aussie prop, Scott Sio, however, the Wallabies are well prepared for the Wales v Australia tie.
“All the teams are improving every year,” he told the press. “We know that the Wales of this year aren’t the same as the Wales of last year so we’ve got to be ready for that”.
Ireland v New Zealand – Can the Irish Break the All Blacks’ Winning Streak?
Ireland will have much further to travel for their match this weekend. They’ll be taking on the All Blacks at 20:00 on Saturday in the USA, at Chicago’s Soldier Field Stadium, home of the Chicago Bears.
The All Blacks have triumphed in every Ireland v New Zealand tie that’s taken place so far and they’re on a record-breaking winning streak at the moment, with 18 consecutive victories. The Irish will be keen to put a stop to their run of success, however – and, according to Connacht lock, Ultan Dillane, they believe they are capable of causing an upset, no matter what the statistics suggest:
“We think about how the team is at the moment not how things panned out in games from years ago,” he told the Daily Mail. “We don’t think they are invincible. They do have weaknesses. We will try and exploit those.”
Despite having beaten the Wallabies by 37-10 in their Bledisloe Cup match last month, however, the All Blacks aren’t resting on their laurels, according to flanker Jerome Kaino. “We just reviewed our Australian game and we weren’t happy with how we performed,” he said.
With Ireland’s Paddy Jackson, Iain Henderson, Luke Marshall, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony and Keith Earls all missing from the squad, taking the All Blacks apart will be a tough challenge.
Are you a rugby union fan? Will you be watching Wales v Australia or Ireland v New Zealand tomorrow? Leave a comment and let us know.