The inaugural Autumn Nations Cup kicks off on Friday night as the unions count the losses of cancelled summer tours and rescheduled Six Nations matches due to COVID-19.
An elongated international window spells trouble for the PRO14 with sides without their internationals for a further three weeks. While the IRFU received €18m in emergency funding, they necessity for these internationals is clear to see as the union reported a record deficit of €37.5m a matter of weeks before they received the tax payer money.
The FRU has put together a simple guide to the Autumn Nations Cup explaining the format, who will compete and where you can watch it.
Which sides are competing?
Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, France, Italy, Fiji and Georgia.
What is the tournament format?
The eight teams will be split into two groups where the sides will play the teams in the same group once.
Group stage matches will take place over three weekends leaving the fourth weekend a ‘finals round’
At the end of the three matches, first place in group A will play first place in group B to determine the overall winner of the competition. This is the same for second to fourth in both groups and will leave a simple ladder table similar to the final standings of the U20 World Championship.
|Group A||Group B|
Unlike the new format for the Champions Cup, I think this is a straightforward structure and a good idea for a one off tournament.
Is it on TV?
Yes. Amazon Prime Video is the main UK broadcaster for the tournament, representing their first foray into the rugby market. All bar two of the matches will be shown on Amazon Prime for a monthly subscription cost of £7.99.
If you’ve never signed up for Amazon Prime before, you can use their 30-day free trial and then cancel after the rugby is over.
All of Ireland’s group matches will be available to watch on Channel 4 with the free-to-air channel holding exclusive rights to the matches against Wales and Georgia.
If UK viewers are wanting to watch matches where Ireland are not involved, or want to watch Ireland’s fourth match, they will need a Prime Video subscription
All of Ireland’s matches are on RTE and the rest of the fixtures will be on Premier Sports for Irish viewers.
|Fri, 13 Nov 20||Ireland||19:00||Wales||C 4||RTE|
|Sat, 14 Nov 20||Italy||12:45||Scotland||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 14 Nov 20||England||15:00||Georgia||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sun, 15 Nov 20||France||15:15||Fiji||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 21 Nov 20||Italy||12:45||Fiji||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 21 Nov 20||England||15:00||Ireland||C4, Amazon||RTE|
|Sat, 21 Nov 20||Wales||17:15||Georgia||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sun, 22 Nov 20||Scotland||15:00||France||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 28 Nov 20||Scotland||13:45||Fiji||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 28 Nov 20||Wales||16:00||England||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 28 Nov 20||France||20:00||Italy||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sun, 29 Nov 20||Ireland||14:00||Georgia||C4||RTE|
|Sat, 5 Dec 20||Georgia||12:00||TBD||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 5 Dec 20||Ireland||14:15||TBD||Amazon||RTE|
|Sat, 5 Dec 20||Wales||16:45||TBD||Amazon||Premier Sports|
|Sun, 6 Dec 20||England||14:00||TBD||Amazon||Premier Sports|
The opponents for the last four fixtures (Round 4) will be decided upon the conclusion of the first three weekends of action. The dates, times and venues for these matches will not change regardless whether Ireland finish in the group.
Georgia & Fiji
Calls are made yearly for Georgia and Fiji to be included in the Six Nations and Rugby Championship respectively and now they have their chance to make their case for inclusion.
Fiji are buoyed by the availability of Nemani Nadolo, Kini Murimurivalu and Semi Radradra with the latter expected to make an early return after recovering from an injured hamstring.
Georgia have appointed David Humphreys as a High Performance Director while Neil Doak is their attacking and backs coach for the duration of the tournament.
Georgia played one warm up match against Scotland over two weeks where they were comfortably defeated 48-7. That’s been their only match since the Rugby Europe fixture against Portugal at the start of March.
Fiji’s last fixture was against Wales over a year ago in the Rugby World Cup. The Pacific Islanders have all the tools to be competitive and I’m looking forward to seeing them face off against Italy as I think they could cause the Italians a few problems.
The FRU predicts…