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Power Rankings ahead of Round 1 of the Autumn Nations Series

Power Rankings ahead of Round 1 of the Autumn Nations Series

Ireland celebrate Autumn

A nailbiter that went down to the wire, the opening weekend of the Autumn Nations Series lived up to its billing and then some – and has had an impact on our power rankings! 

Australia lived up to our ranking of sixth, ahead of Scotland who they pipped 16-15 in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, outside the context of the Autumn Nations Series, Japan almost pulled off an almighty shock against the All Blacks.

So with six games on the schedule for this weekend, we have a few slight changes to the rankings but expect a lot more movement next week.

Don’t agree? Then let us know on the Autumn Nations Series social channels!

1. Ireland  

No change at the top. Ireland still lead the way after their series win in New Zealand. They open their campaign against South Africa on Saturday. It is arguably the game of the weekend and a huge test for Andy Farrell’s team.

There is a sense that the one way to get the better of this Ireland team is to outmuscle them, that is what France did in the Guinness Six Nations.

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If there is one team that is built to do that, it is the Springboks. Beat the world champions and Ireland will cement their spot at the top of the pile.

2. France  

Last week we were worrying about French injuries, but Cyril Baille has made a miraculous recovery and could even feature against Australia this weekend.

The Wallabies should be more game ready, especially with the likes of Baille and Ntamack not having played any rugby in weeks.

Still, France have won ten in a row, and can break their all-time record with another win here. The last team to beat them? Well, that was the Wallabies back in 2021, albeit a France team without the majority of their starters.

3. South Africa (+1) 

Up a spot without playing, but after the way New Zealand struggled at the weekend, it feels like the Springboks are probably the best side coming north this November.

As mentioned above, we will find out a lot about them very quickly when they take on Ireland. The big question is about the fly-half position. Is Damian Willemse the man long-term?

Damian Willemse Rugby Championship

Provided he has recovered fully from the injury that kept him out of the end of the Rugby Championship, this is a huge opportunity for him.

4. New Zealand (-1) 

A win is a win, but having led 21-3, they were given a real scare by Japan in Tokyo.

Even if it wasn’t a full-strength side, that sort of fragility will be a real concern, and their cause hasn’t be helped by losing Sam Cane and Dane Coles for the remainder of the tour, while Brodie Retallick will likely miss a few weeks through suspension.

They will still expect to beat Wales this weekend, but the fear factor of the All Blacks may be on the wane at the moment.

5. England  

Potentially a case for putting them above the All Blacks. Japan coach Jamie Joseph certainly seems to think England are better.

Still, they are going to be without skipper Courtney Lawes for their clash with Argentina, Owen Farrell might not be back either.

That would leave a big question over the captaincy, perhaps Ellis Genge as the next in line after his efforts leading Leicester last year. Argentina and Japan are World Cup dress rehearsals and should give us a great idea of where England stand.

6. Australia  

One down, four to go. Australia found themselves in a hole in Edinburgh and got out of it.

Skipper James Slipper is becoming a try machine. He had to wait 94 Tests for a first Test try, he now has two in 2022 alone – and this one was important.

They will need to be better in Paris, but with Will Skelton back and looking to make an impact in the country where he plies his club trade, Australia will give it everything against France.

7. Argentina  

A big test at Twickenham for Argentina, and an even bigger one for coach Michael Cheika.

The boss of Los Pumas has already masterminded a record win over Australia and a first win in New Zealand. Can he add wins in two codes in three days?

Argentina

As well as his role in charge of Argentina, Cheika is Lebanon’s rugby league head coach and has a World Cup quarter-final clash against Australia on Friday before England in union on Sunday.

A win in the former would rank among the greatest upsets in sporting history. In the latter? It would be a shock but Argentina will fancy their chances.

8. Wales  

A lot will depend on who is fit and who is not. Wales are waiting on a lot of quality players, although Louis Rees-Zammit looks to have maintained the form that saw him shine in South Africa this summer.

A first win over the All Blacks in nearly 70 years would be a shock, even if New Zealand are not in the most convincing form either.

Can Justin Tipuric inspire a piece of history?

9. Scotland  

Scotland get their overseas contingent back this week, after letting slip a game that they will feel they absolutely should have won on Saturday.

Where defeat to Australia was disappointing, there are some mitigating factors that mean it was not all bad.

A loss to Fiji, by contrast, would be more concerning. And yet, this is a Fijian side that is absolutely packed with talent in the back line and that will certainly test the Scots.

10. Samoa  

As mentioned last week, Samoa probably come into this campaign as the most under-the-radar side of anyone.

But the Pacific Nations Cup champions will have big ambitions to match their mighty pack and will be a huge test first up for Italy in Padua.

The Azzurri will not be easy to beat on home soil, but if Samoa are to keep building on their form from July, this is a must-win game.

11. Georgia  

Ahead of Italy based on their win in the summer, but there are some concerns over the Georgian team coming into the autumn.

Star full-back Davit Niniashvili took a heavy blow to the head in action for Lyon at the weekend and would be a huge loss if he does miss time.

And the prop options, traditionally the strength of Georgian rugby, are something of a mix of untested and extremely young players, albeit 18-year-old Stade Français loosehead Sergo Abramishvili looked outstanding on his Top 14 debut.

12. Italy  

Injuries have hit Italy, not least with the news that Ange Capuozzo will miss the opening game of the Autumn Nations Series at the very least.

In a team of young players with potential, he might be Paolo Garbisi’s main rival for being the most exciting Italian prospect in the game.

Still, Italy have enough back-three options that his absence does not spell disaster. The test will be whether their pack can get the better of Samoa on Saturday.

13. Japan (+1)

World Rugby’s rankings do not give you any reward for a defeat, but we do here.

For their second match running, Japan were not far off beating one of the top sides in the world. And whereas France this summer effectively put out a second-string side, New Zealand were closer to full strength, even with a few big-name absentees.

The major difference for the Brave Blossoms was the return of Kazuki Himeno, among the very best back-rowers in the world. He was the standout performer for either side, and with two weeks now to prepare for England, expect Jamie Joseph to pull out all the stops to turn a narrow defeat into a victory.

14. Fiji (-1) 

Through no fault of their own, Fiji drop a spot. We just had to reward Japan for their showing in Tokyo.

Fiji could move up very quickly with a win over Scotland though, and it is a sign of how good their backline options are that Josua Tuisova is not included in their squad and they might still have the best three-quarter line of anyone this November.

The questions are more about the No.10 jersey. With no Ben Volavola, is centre Sireli Maqala going to be given the responsibility? It would certainly be fun to watch.

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