Neutral November - England - Green and Gold Rugby

Neutral November – England

Neutral November – England

The Wallabies won and the All Blacks lost. Usually it’d be quite a good weekend for a Wallabies supporter, but that Italian match didn’t raise any spirits.

Of course GAGR’s covered it, in much detail. Here’s the match report written by Steve, here’s the Italian view, and here’s Tuesday’s Top 5.

Oh, and Matt and Jamie got together and did a podcast on the topic –

But this column is not really about the Wallabies – or any weird backlines – it’s about all the other games going on in November. Without further ado:

Games Last Weekend

Ireland 16 New Zealand 9

What a game! Well, I still haven’t watched it but it was great to see Ireland beat the Kiwis again. Will this mean there’s a good chance the Kiwis won’t kill international rugby dead winning three RWCs in a row?

Post-match, Steve Hansen was quite quick to fake-compliment Ireland calling them the best team in the world. It’s funny that this has really thrown a spanner into the works of New Zealand rugby. They’ve already started blaming the Wallabies.

Some of the saner Kiwi talk has been about Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, and dual playmakers. Paul Cully makes the case for Mo’unga – who’s far more of a traditional 10 than Barrett – to start against Italy. Which is sort of what I was thinking watching the England – NZ game – Barrett is a great player but not a great flyhalf.

Other Games

South Africa beat Scotland 26-20 and Argentina were smashed 28-13 by France, in the only other two Tier 1 matches last weekend. It’s really hard to track the progress of either team at the moment, but it’s safe to say South Africa will be a real threat again next year.

England almost embarrassed themselves against Japan, going into halftime 15-10 behind. A kick up the arse saw them come around as 25-15 winners. Wales meanwhile thumped Tonga 74 – yep that’s 10 tries – to 24. Wales put on 50 points in the 2nd half.

Georgia came back from their Italy defeat by overcoming Samoa in Tbilisi, 27-19. Fiji also saw off Uruguay in stunning fashion, beating them 68-7 in some town in Gloucestershire.

Our old pals the Maori All Blacks had a fine old time on their holiday, spending 80 minutes putting 73 points on Chile with no reply.

World Cup Qualifying

Canada’s all but confirmed their place at next year’s World Cup after beating Germany 29-10, with an bonus point. Hong Kong saw off Kenya 42-17. With Canada on 10 points, both Kenya and Germany are eliminated from qualifying.

Games This Weekend

England vs Australia – Game O’ The Week

Cheika, my son, you must be England to keep your job. You have lost to them 5 times in a row. What will you do? Will you a) set up and choose a team that will play a cohesive, smart style of rugby that won’t play into the hands of the English or b) will you just keep doing what you’ve always been doing and lose against the biggest rivals in the stupidest way possible?

He’s gonna choose b) isn’t he?

Wales vs South Africa

Wales finally get to play a tough opponent in South Africa this weekend. It’ll be a test match that will test if either side can match it with the elite two or Ireland and New Zealand. Both sides – throw in England too – have been the biggest improves this year. Funny how in a space of two years that this can be the worst fixture between Tier 1 sides to one of the most interesting.

Other Big Games

Italy will play New Zealand, and Scotland will play Argentina this weekend as well.

France is playing Fiji while Georgia will try to double-down on its credentials as best of the rest against Tonga. Ireland will be playing against the fake Irish, the United States. Bit of a comedown from last week hey.

For some reason Japan is playing Russia in Gloucestershire, and Samoa will be catching the train to Spain. The result of that could be interesting to catch up on as Spain has been rapidly improving its rugby, beating World Cup qualifiers Namibia last weekend.

World Cup Qualifying

Canada is playing Honkers for a place in the RWC. To qualify, Canada just has to not lose and give Hong Kong a try bonus point. Which means that Hong Kong has to basically do everything to qualify. Kenya and Germany meanwhile will play out for pride.

The winner will get to play with New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia.

Interesting Other Stuff

Gold Medal-winning former Fiji coach Ben Ryan had a rather interesting interview in the Guardian, to discuss his thoughts on the decline of World Rugby. Roughly, in his view, World Rugby isn’t really doing enough to spread the love and money around the smaller nations.

“Central to it all, he believes, is the selfish decision-making of certain stakeholders which is steering the global game into deeply worrying territory,” writes the Guardian’s Robert Kitson. Hmm sounds awfully familiar.

Vice-president of World Rugby and rugby revolutionist Agustin Pichot posted a provocative tweet yesterday, showing percentages of foreign-born players playing for each rugby team. Argentina and South Africa are at the bottom with 0%, while Scotland and Japan are at the top with 46.3% and 37.1% respectively.

It’s easy to see what angle Pichot is getting at, but this tweet is too simplistic to really say anything. In fact it’s so open, one could easily conclude that no one wants to immigrate to Argentina or South Africa because they’re crime-infested corrupt sh*tholes.

Here’s the tweet:

Annnnnd to round things off, here’s a classic All Blacks invisibility cloak moment. No penalty nor card was issued. Take a look –

Main Fixtures

Georgia Tonga 1am 1230am 12am 1130pm 10pm
Italy New Zealand 1am 1230am 12am 1130pm 10pm
Scotland Argentina 130am 1am 1230am 12am 1030pm
Spain Samoa 145am 115am 1245am 1215am 1045pm
England Australia 2am 130am 1am 1230am 11am
Wales South Africa 420am 350am 320am 250am 120am
Ireland USA 530am 5am 430am 4am 230am
France Fiji 7am 630am 6am 530am 4am
  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nick,
    Good to see the Boks stepping up and if they continue down this path they’ll be a real threat at the RWC. I’m hoping they take Wales on this one.

    Not sure you guys will step up regardless of who Cheika picks, interesting how no one actually has a clue on what he might do and that’s pretty damning. I’m picking Hanigan at 6 if Pocock is injured and AAC in there somewhere. I’m not convinced he’ll either quit or be fired even if he loses so roll on the same next year.

    I must admit all the dire talk on NZ is starting to get to me. Part of me loves it because it’s proof that we’re doing well and everyone’s united against us, but some of the comments have been a bit much. Personally I’m backing Hansen and his team having a much better idea on where the team is at and where they’re going over all the whinging so called experts who are decrying everything from sacking Reid to needing to replace Barrett or anyone else. I guess we’ll know sometime next Sept or Oct when the final of the RWC is over but I still have more faith in a threepeat than in suddenly a team that has never got out of the QF coming in as winners.

    Good luck to Canada I like the way they play and hope they do get through.

    • laurence king

      Every good team needs to get beaten every now and again, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, more good than harm really. Whereas, as a Wallaby supporter we have to drink the dregs of that vile tonic all too often lol

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate I’m happy for that and TBH the losses this year don’t worry me at all. I just get a bit annoyed at all the so called experts coming out of the shadow with all sorts of shit which actually just demonstrates how insecure and incompetent they are.

        • laurence king

          Mate, I wish the Wallabies were in such poor form and had as little chance of winning the World Cup and had such a lousy coach, no such luck and as one Michael Lynagh today, all the good coaches are already employed

        • juswal

          Just because the criticism hurts your feelings, it’s not necessarily shit.

          Conversely, if it is shit, it shouldn’t disturb you.

    • Nutta

      What is Hansen’s win/loss record? What is Reid’s win/loss record? Facta non verba. The rest is bullshit Dude.

  • formerflanker

    Occasional losses focus the mind.
    Continual losses weaken the mind.

    • laurence king

      That explains a little bit about the current state of mind of our beloved Wallabies doesn’t it.

  • Bakkies

    Pichot has being pushing this agenda for a while what he is forgetting is that it is SA and Arg Government policy that you have to be a citizen to play for those two countries and he wants the IRB to do the same but it won’t happen. Despite this the Beast played 50 tests for the Boks as a Zim citizen only and the SA Government banned him. His SA citizenship was sorted out in a week to save further embarrassment.

    We don’t want the rest of Rugby to go down that path.

  • Who?


    “Barrett is a great player but not a great flyhalf.”

    Just like Hooper – fantastic player, but not necessarily the right fit for the KPI’s of his position.
    Funny how everyone’s now starting to come around to what I was saying months ago… Not advocating dropping him, I don’t see how you could drop him. He’s electric. But he’s arguably a bit wasted at 10, which isn’t a position you should put a ball runner. And he’s a ball runner, just like Beale.

    • Nutta

      I always thought he would make a cracking 15

      • Who?

        I used to think he was a 10, given he was playing there for the Canes, but having watched him, over a few years, I’ve come to that conclusion.
        Crazy thing is, Shag used to see him as a 15, and has gone the other way – sees him as a 10 now! Maybe not all the coaching crazy is restricted to Australia..? Most of it, sure, but not all.

  • Mart

    Sefa Niavalu, seems to be the best finisher going around. Why do they keep dropping him. He is the only one in the backline who can find the line consistently. Or Is it just me?

    Screw it lets put 2 fullbacks on the wings

  • donktec

    thanks Nick, looking forward to some good rugby this weekend. and might even see what the wallabies are up to. (boom tish! thank you and don’t forget to tip your waitress…)


Hopes to play David Pocock in the inevitable biopic. Lifelong fan of whoever Jarrad Hayne is currently playing for.

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