The teams have been announced for the Autumn Nations Cup 3rd place play off in which Ireland entertain Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Kick off 14:15. Live on RTE and Amazon Prime.
The final weekend playoffs give the tournament the feel of a championship rather than a cup competition as all the teams are involved in games to decide the final standings, and, I assume, ranking points.
England and France take the prime billing on Sunday as they play to decide the tournament winners, the rest of the sides battling it out for bragging rights on Saturday, fixtures as follows.
|Sat, 5 Dec 20||Georgia||12:00||Fiji||7th Place|
|Sat, 5 Dec 20||Ireland||14:15||Scotland||3rd Place|
|Sat, 5 Dec 20||Wales||16:45||Italy||5th Place|
|Sun, 6 Dec 20||England||14:00||France||1st Place|
Georgia and Fiji kick off proceedings with their noon kick off and it’s good to see Fiji finally get a game, though I think most people will be hoping that the doughty Georgians will take this one. It should be an entertaining game as it pitches the hard working, forwards dominated, Georgia against the flair of the Fijians.
In fact, all of the Saturday games look as though they could be entertaining and that is certainly something that this tournament could do with. I’d envisioned the tournament as an opportunity for the teams to try out quite a few of their young fringe players as they start to build towards RWC 2023. Unfortunately, in most cases due to player availability, too many sides have continued with the tried and tested players and it’s been a rather flat tournament with defences dominating.
Reading the pressers from the IRFU and SRU for this one, you could be fooled into thinking that both teams were doing a fair bit of experimentation with both claiming 6 changes from their last game. However, when you look at the caps shared out amongst the respective starting XV’s, Scotland’s total comes to 392 and Ireland’s, a colossal, 739.
Whatever the underlying reasons, it’s a disappointing selection from Ireland, and I fail to see what we’ll learn about, Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony that we haven’t learnt already from their combined total of 487 caps?
There are a couple of development opportunities in the Ireland squad. Hugo Keenan continues his progress on the wing and Jacob Stockdale continues his re-acclimation to full back where he remains Ireland’s largest attacking threat. Last, but not least, Eric O’Sullivan finally gets his call up to the squad.
Scotland have their latest cap, Jaco van der Walt, starting at out half in a reasonably refreshed squad. They only have three players over the 40 cap mark in captain Stuart Hogg, vice captain Fraser Brown and Jonny Gray, Ireland are captained by Jonny Sexton, one of seven Irish players over the 40 cap mark.
The FRU Predicts: Ireland’s’ Andy Farrell says that this is a chance to lay down marker for the Six Nations. While Ireland continue to focus on that anual tournament their development is going to be lacking. It may be in everyone’s interest for Scotland to win this one!
Teams for Ireland v Scotland.
|Jacob Stockdale||15||Stuart Hogg|
|Hugo Keenan||14||Darcy Graham|
|Robbie Henshaw||13||Chris Harris|
|Bundee Aki||12||Duncan Taylor|
|Keith Earls||11||Duhan van der Merwe|
|Jonathan Sexton||10||Jaco van der Walt|
|Conor Murray||9||Ali Price|
|Cian Healy||1||Rory Sutherland|
|Rob Herring||2||Fraser Brown|
|Andrew Porter||3||Zander Fagerson|
|Iain Henderson||4||Scott Cummings|
|James Ryan (c)||5||Jonny Gray|
|CJ Stander||6||Blade Thomson|
|Peter O’Mahony||7||Jamie Ritchie|
|Caelan Doris||8||Matt Fagerson|
|Ronan Kelleher||16||Stuart McInally|
|Eric O’Sullivan*||17||Oli Kebble|
|John Ryan||18||Willem Nel|
|Quinn Roux||19||Sam Skinner|
|Josh van der Flier||20||Blair Cowan|
|Jamison Gibson-Park||21||Sam Hidalgo-Clyne|
|Ross Byrne||22||Huw Jones|
|Chris Farrell||23||Sean Maitland|