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The Autumn Internationals are nearly upon us – so who’s playing who and what are their chances? The full fixture list for tier 1 and 2 teams is shown below.
England (Argentina – Aus – Samoa)
France (NZ – South Africa – Japan)
Ireland (South Africa – Fiji – Arg)
Italy (Fiji – Arg – South Africa)
Scotland (Samoa – NZ – Australia)
Wales (Australia – Georgia – NZ – SA)
Argentina (England – Italy – Ireland)
Australia (Wales – England – Scotland)
New Zealand (Fra – Scotland – Wales)
South Africa (Ire – Fra – Italy – Wales)
Samoa (Scotland – Romania – England)
Based on the current rankings (8th November 2017) and our model the current predictions are as follows. These will be updated as the weeks progress and results come in.
England (2 heavy wins, 1 win)
France (1 win, 1 loss, 1 heavy loss)
Ireland (1 heavy win, 2 wins)
Italy (3 losses)
Scotland (1 heavy win, 1 tight loss, 1 heavy loss)
Wales (1 heavy win, 1 win, 1 loss, 1 heavy loss)
Argentina (1 win, 1 loss, 1 heavy loss)
Australia (1 win, 1 tight win, 1 loss)
New Zealand (3 heavy wins)
South Africa (1 tight win, 2 losses)
Samoa (2 heavy losses, 1 loss)
Wales face arguably the greatest challenge; playing Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends. With only 3 wins out of 39 attempts against the big 3 Southern Hemisphere giants in the past 10 years (Aus 2008, SA 2014 & 2016) they will be hoping for a turn of fortunes in the coming weeks.
Our model suggests they will add 1 victory to this total against South Africa in their final match, winning 25-19, but that Australia and New Zealand will prove too much for the men in red, losing by 5 and 24 points respectively.
Scotland have probably the next most difficult matches; facing both Australia and New Zealand after their opening match against Samoa. Having beaten Australia away in the summer confidence should be high, however a loss against Fiji the following week is indicative of the highs and lows of Scottish rugby at the moment.
Our model suggests an easy win for the Scots over Samoa (although it is worth pointing out that it continually overestimates the Scots performance over the Samoans, so this one may be a little closer than predicted), a heavy loss to the Kiwis (18-40), before a very tight finish against the Australians, with the men in gold exacting revenge for their summer defeat by just 1 point (24-25). Indeed the last 6 matches between these two have been decided by fewer than 5 points, and 3 by just a single point. A match to watch for certain.
France face both New Zealand and South Africa before finishing with Japan. Having been beaten comprehensively in the 3 summer tests against South Africa, the French will be hoping for revenge. A close contest with the All Blacks in last year’s fixture may give them some confidence that they can turn their recent run of fortune and with more wins over the All Blacks than any Northern Hemisphere team (12 in total) the French are certainly best placed for an upset.
Our model suggests however, that the French should not trouble the New Zealanders, losing 13-44 on the opening weekend. A tight home rematch against the South Africans is predicted to follow, with the French succumbing by 1 point (21-22) before finishing strong against the Japanese in the final week, winning 28-18.
Ireland face South Africa and Argentina with Fiji in the intervening week. Having beaten all these teams on their last outings against them, the Irish should feel confident of winning 3 from 3 in their fixtures.
Our model confirms this expectation with comfortable home wins by 12, 22 and 15 points over the South Africans, Fijians and Argentinians respectively.
England have probably the easiest fixtures; opening with Argentina and Australia before finishing with Samoa. Having not lost to any of these teams in recent match ups, 3 from 3 should be the minimum expectation for the English as they look to build on their recent run of form of 21 wins from 22 after their early exit from World Cup 2015.
Again, our model confirms these expectations with 27, 14 and 44 point victories for the English over Argentina, Australia and Samoa respectively.
Argentina come into these fixtures with just 1 win from 9 in 2017. A solitary win against Georgia came in between 2 defeats on England’s summer tour and 6 heavy losses in the Rugby Championship. The Puma’s will be hoping for similar luck in the Northern Hemisphere that they had during the 2015 Rugby World Cup which saw them beat Ireland to reach the semi finals before losing eventually to Australia.
Our model suggest however, that Ireland will prove too much for the Argentinians this time round with a 15 point victory predicted for the men in green. Argentina should add 1 victory to their yearly total however, with a 13 point victory over Italy after a 14-41 loss to England in their opening fixture.
Australia will travel North on a real high, undefeated in their last 7 matches and a recent 23-18 win over New Zealand. England will no doubt will specifically be a big target for the Australians, after losing 4 from 4 in 2017, including 3 at home.
Our model suggests Australia will openly strongly against the Welsh, winning by 5 points. However, England will prove too strong once again defeating the Aussies by 14 points and ending their winning streak in the second week, before a tight 1 point victory against the Scots in their final match.
New Zealand have had a mixed year by their standards. Losing for the first time at home in 8 years and 47 matches to the British Lions in July was followed up by a thrilling draw the following week. Another loss to Australia in the Bledisloe Cup last month made 2017 only the second time the Kiwis have suffered two losses in a year this decade.
Our model suggests they will suffer no further difficulties this year, racking up 3 easy wins over France, Scotland and Wales by 31, 22 and 24 points respectively.
South Africa have had a resurgence in 2017 after a torrid 2016 in which they recorded on 4 victories from 13. This year their only defeats have come at the hands of world champions New Zealand, with 3 solid victories over France in the summer backed up by wins over Argentina and 2 draws with Australia (a nightmare for the predictions) in the Rugby Championship.
Our model suggests South Africa will continue this run of good form as, after an initial defeat to Ireland by 12 points, they will make 4 wins from 4 in 2017 against the French with a narrow 1 point victory and exact revenge on the Italians for their 2016 defeat with a 14 point victory.