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Now that it's over, it's all about the numbers.
For four weeks, eight of the worlds 14 best teams faced off in 13 games and now the Autumn Nations Cup is complete. The result was a fun tournament that, despite lacking fans, provided plenty of excitement and drama at the end of a bizarre year in sport.
Each team entered the competition with aspirations of winning the trophy or at the least snagging some sort of positive momentum heading into 2021. And when it was all said and done, it was England who once again prevailed as the champions.
But of the 13 games, we found five from the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup that were absolutely can't-miss.
The Italians came into Round 1 looking to make a statement that they’ve added quality depth and youth to the squad. Scotland entered the match on a rare four-game win streak and a feeling that this could be their time to nab a trophy.
Italy came out of the gates firing, and pushed Scotland to the very brink of defeat before a spirited Scottish comeback staged a fascinating climax.
Billed as one of the headliners of the tournament, England hosted Ireland in Round 2 of the ANC. On the back of three consecutive double-digit losses to England, the Irish and head coach Andy Farrell were determined to prove they’ve put the English curse behind them.
To the delight of the English, however, a dominant forward display and a performance for the ages from Jonny May meant their team hit Ireland in the mouth for the fourth time running.
Sadly, we only got to see Fiji play one time this Autumn, as an outbreak in the team camp before the tournament saw 29 players test positive for coronavirus. Their three weeks of quarantine meant they had to forfeit the first three matches, but much to everyone’s delight they were permitted to play Georgia in Round 4.
It took no more than two and a half minutes for Fiji to make a mark on the game, and from then on it was a fun game with plenty of scoring and running rugby from both teams. At long last the Fijian flair blessed the ANC and the entire competition was better off for it.
Riding a five-game win streak and looking for a second victory over France in 2020, Scotland circled the France matchup as its moment to finally emerge as a powerhouse on the international stage.
Keeping the electric French attack in check is an extremely tall task, but like they’ve been all year, Gregor Townsend’s men were up to the task. The Scots’ upset bid came all the way down to the final play of the match in a thriller in Edinburgh.
What was anticipated by everyone to be a titanic heavyweight battle quickly became a story of David and Goliath, when days before the match it was revealed that France’s top 25 players would have to miss out on the match per an agreement between the Top14 clubs and the French Rugby Federation.
Against England’s full-on first team, France’s youthful side delivered a heroic performance, showcasing a depth that should send shivers down everyone else’s backs ahead of the next World Cup. The match, known as le crunch, went to not one, but two periods of extra time, as both sides battled to the final whistle in sudden death overtime.
We may never see a tier-1 test match go into double-overtime for the rest of our lives, but even if we don’t, Sunday’s championship between England and France was one memorable occasion.