Reflections from a great day of international rugby
Wooden Spoon Surrey Honorary President and broadcaster, John Inverdale, reflects on an incredible day of rugby as week four of the Autumn Internationals saw shocks, stunning rugby and some last-gasp memorable moments.
What a day of rugby!
Last Saturday was quite simply a great day of international rugby.
I can imagine people sitting in front of their television from midday until 10pm just purring at what they were seeing.
At times, during the five games, it was like watching a game of sevens with the ball seemingly never leaving the field of play. After all the recent issues with the game slowing down, it was a joy to watch.
It was one of those days where, if you look in isolation, you would say there is nothing wrong with the sport and not much needs to change.
The Lions tour was a major disappointment, from a spectacle point of view, and this was just the boost that rugby needed.
England’s spine too strong for tired South Africa
I actually thought England might beat South Africa. With Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, they have been on the road for a long time and it can be a question of how many times can you keep going.
I don’t want to diminish what England achieved, but I think there was an element of fatigue.
From an England perspective, with the likes of Smith, Quirk and Steward, they now have a spine of a team for the next few years and they were absolutely outstanding.
Impressions of the Autumn Internationals
I was very impressed with Freddie Steward but there is probably nothing original I can say about him. He is performing in a way I always knew he would.
I was so pleased Rhys Priestland got the final penalty for Wales after what he has gone through and Stuart Hogg proved that he is still an important player for Scotland.
The French half-backs also took the game to a fantastic level – at certain times, it was almost like they had turned back the clock. It was great to see.
A South American surge
Saturday actually started with a great match between Italy and Uruguay which saw the Uruguayans almost pull off a shock victory.
It is so important for world rugby that they do everything they can to get competitive fixtures for nations like Uruguay. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a second South American nation doing well?
Last Saturday proved that international rugby is so much richer and stronger when there are more competitive countries.
The Six Nations is now set up to be a fascinating tournament. England against Ireland is going to be very intriguing as we saw how ruthless Ireland were against both Japan and Argentina during the Autumn Internationals.
And then the last game of the Six Nations sees England travel to Paris. Last Saturday, France were so good against the All Blacks in what was an incredible advert for the sport.