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Five things we learnt from the Summer Nations Series

Five things we learnt from the Summer Nations Series

Five things we learnt from the Summer Nations Series

We were treated to some great tries, incredible moments and shocking upsets during the 2023 Summer Nations Series. 

The world’s best went head-to-head in preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which is now just over a week away. 

Fans across both hemispheres now have a much better idea of where their teams stand ahead of the tournament in France, so with that in mind, let us take a closer look at what we learned from the Summer Nations Series. 

@autumnnationsseries THAT is a finish 👏 #SummerNationsSeries #FRAAUS ♬ REACT X TOCA ME – switchdisco

Fiji could make history

Fiji only contested two matches, but they made a massive statement. 

Simon Raiwalui’s side gave France a scare in their first game before ultimately falling to a 34-17 defeat, but the best was yet to come. 

They went on to record their first-ever win against England a week later, a 30-22 triumph that proved Fiji possessed the tactical nous to stun tier one opposition. 

And if you combine that with their outrageously talented pool of players, then it is clear that Raiwalui’s squad have the potential to make history in France. 

@autumnnationsseries A time Fiji will never forget! 🤩⌚️ #SummerNationsSeries #SixNationsRugby #Breitling #MissionAccomplished #Ad ♬ original sound – Summer Nations Series ⚡️

Fiji have reached the World Cup quarter-finals twice before, but as the top-ranked team in Pool C, they have a good chance of doing it again. Among those who they could face in a potential quarter-final are England, Samoa and Japan, three teams who the Fijians have already beaten this year. Could they reach the semi-finals for the first time?

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Injuries won’t stop the Boks 

Handre Pollard, Lood de Jager and Lukhanyo Am weren’t included in South Africa’s 33-player Rugby World Cup squad due to injury, but the Summer Nations Series showed the Springboks will still be one of the favourites in France. 

Manie Libbok put Jacques Nienaber’s fly-half dilemma to bed by following up a strong showing in the Rugby Championship with a superb display in the 52-16 win over Wales. 

However, he was not the only player who impressed at Principality Stadium. 

Jesse Kriel scored his first try for the Springboks in almost five years to give Nienaber another option at centre. 

And in the pack, De Jager may be out, but Jean Kleyn is firmly in the fold after an excellent outing in the engine room.

Add in a record win over New Zealand at Twickenham and it is little wonder that Springbok fans are getting excited about their team. 

South Africa may be missing some of their biggest stars, but thanks to their strength in depth, they could still win the World Cup. 

Scotland are the second-half kings 

Scotland showed they are never out of the fight during the Summer Nations Series, but they will need to be firing from the word go against the world’s best in France. 

Gregor Townsend’s side were 6-5 down at half-time in their Summer Nations Series opener against Italy, 21-3 down in their first encounter with France and 6-0 down in their final match against Georgia. 

However, they battled back to win all three matches 25-13, 25-21 and 33-6 respectively. 

They also came within a whisker of beating the World Cup hosts twice in their third match of the summer, putting on another strong second-half showing before falling to a 30-27 defeat in a match where they also trailed by 17 points early in the second half. 

The good news is that Townsend knows his side have no shortage of heart and determination, but to get out of a fiendishly difficult World Cup pool, they will be desperate to avoid those slow starts. 

@autumnnationsseries What a start from @Scottish Rugby 🤩 #SixNationsRugby #SummerNationsSeries #FRASCO #Scotland ♬ original sound – Enzo is Burning

Samoa’s pack can hang with the best of them 

Samoa showed they have what it takes to make it out of Pool D at the World Cup by pushing Ireland to the limit in Bayonne. 

They ultimately fell to a 17-13 defeat against the Grand Slam champions, but were it not for a botched kick to the corner in the closing stages, they could have had so much more. 

Ireland were let off the hook, but Samoa’s pack shone on French soil, overpowering Andy Farrell’s forwards. 

If they can replicate that performance against England, Japan, Argentina and Chile, then they stand a good chance of reaching the knockout stages. 

Jalibert can be France’s main man 

Romain Ntamack’s injury threw France’s World Cup credentials into doubt, but Matthieu Jalibert’s performances during the summer have shown Les Bleus can win the tournament without their star fly-half. 

Jalibert was impressive in the first half of the defeat against Scotland, but it was the victory against Australia where he really stepped up. 

The 24-year-old played 80 minutes in the 41-17 triumph, pulling the strings with style as Les Bleus crossed the whitewash four times. 

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