They used to be called the November internationals but now the dates, fixtures, and pools for the new Autumn Nations Winter Rugby Championship are announced.
The competition is the replacement for the usual November Internationals. In the current climate of a pandemic, southern hemisphere teams will not travel to Europe. Instead, a restructured Rugby Championship looks set to take place with New Zealand as hosts.
Rumours that 2019 World Cup winners South Africa could join the 8 Nations materialized in recent weeks. However, they will not be sending a squad for the November and December tournament.
Likewise, Japan looked like another big team that would link up with the 6 Nations members. But like South Africa, the Cherry Blossoms decided against traveling the long distance.
Instead, Georgia and Fiji complete the lineup. The Georgians have long been campaigning for a place in the annual 6 Nations. With their place in 8 Nations confirmed, they have a chance to show why they deserve to be taken seriously.
Ireland have played Georgia just four times in their history. The Irish have won all of these previous meetings, the most recent of which was in 2014. Yet, it is likely that Ireland and Georgia will be in the same 8 Nations pool so their fifth game is imminent.
Similarly, Fiji are overlooked by the Rugby Championship. The Pacific island nation will be the only southern hemisphere team to feature among the 8 Nations. The likes of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Argentina are yet to see Fiji as worthy of a Rugby Championship place.
This winter’s competition is a great chance for Georgia and Fiji to show their credentials against the bigger teams in world rugby.
Round Robin Format
The eight teams will be split into two pools of four. Pool A will consist of Ireland, Georgia, Wales, and England. On the other hand, Pool B will contain France, Italy, Fiji, and Scotland.
The Autumn Nations Cup 2020 will be a unique eight-team competition, involving the Six Nations as well as the rugby unions of Georgia and Fiji.
In recent months as the scale of the challenge presented by the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, it became apparent that fulfilling the traditional Autumn International fixtures would not be possible particularly as a result of travel restrictions preventing certain international teams from competing in scheduled fixtures.
This newly created tournament will replace the traditional Autumn International window for 2020 and ensures rugby fans all over the world will be treated to top class international rugby this Autumn.
The format for the Autumn Nations Cup will be two pools of four – Group A will include England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia with Group B comprising of France, Scotland, Italy and Fiji.
The action gets underway over the weekend of 13th/14th/15th November kicking off with the mouth-watering clash of Andy Farrell‘s Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on the Friday 13th November (Kick-off 7pm). This will be followed on Saturday by England v Georgia and Italy v Scotland, while on Sunday France will entertain Fiji.
In Round 2, Ireland will travel to Twickenham to face England on Saturday 21st November (Kick-off 3pm), before hosting Georgia in Round 3 at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday 29th November (Kick-off 2pm).
The Autumn Nations Cup will conclude on the weekend of the 5th and 6th December with a special final round of matches. Based on the pool rankings coming into the final weekend, each team will face off against the team ranked in their same position in the opposite pool, a format which promises some intriguing and unexpected clashes.
Broadcast arrangements in specific markets will be announced in due course.
Before all of this, there is still the conclusion of the 6 Nations to look forward to. On October 24, Ireland play their game in hand against Italy. A week later, the final round of games takes place. Ireland could lift the trophy with a win over France.
💥 2020 Guinness Six Nations Restart 💥
We're delighted to announce the dates for the four remaining 2020 Guinness Six Nations fixtures.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) August 5, 2020