2022 Ireland vs South Africa

Autumn Series Week 1 Recap: Test Rugby's Power Shifts North

Autumn Series Week 1 Recap: Test Rugby's Power Shifts North

Every November, there’s talk of nations from the northern hemisphere being ready to dethrone their counterparts from southern hemisphere.

Nov 7, 2022 by Mariette Adams
Highlights: Ireland Vs. South Africa

Every November, there’s talk about how nations from the northern hemisphere finally are ready to dethrone their counterparts from southern hemisphere in the best test rugby has to offer.

That chat is amplified every four years during the November test tours prior to a World Cup.

In the past, it remained just that – talk. Wishful thinking. Delusions of grandeur. But things are different now. 

The north has not only equaled the south in terms of consistency, quality and prestige, those teams comprehensively have overtaken them as the best in the test rugby arena by a mile.

And, it was proven beyond doubt in Week 1 of the Autumn Series, as four European nations emerged victorious in the six tests played against nations from this side of the equator.

Here's a look at what went down in the opening week of the 2022 Autumn Series. All competition is being streamed live on FloRugby.

Ireland Floors Erratic Springboks

In one of the crunch games of the weekend, the No. 1-ranked side in the World Rugby rankings hosted the reigning world champions at Aviva Stadium.

The game might not have produced the highest-quality rugby, but there was no shortage of physicality and zest. 

While it was a fierce contest at the breakdown, as expected, Ireland took the sting out of the South Africans’ tail with a surprisingly dominant showing at the scrums.

It was honors even at the break, as the teams headed into the sheds with the score at 6-6, courtesy of two penalties each.

The hosts, though, seized control via two quick-fire tries in the opening 10 minutes after the interval.

Using its bruising forwards, South Africa looked to hit back. The Springboks struggled initially to break down the Irish defense, but did so twice in the final quarter, when Franco Mostert and Kurt-Lee Arendse struck. 

Unfortunately, both conversions were well wide of the target, and that proved costlyas Sexton booted a third match-deciding penalty.


For years now, there has been a belief that the test rankings are a fluke and not a true reflection of teams’ quality. It may have been the case in the past, especially so during the time when

the Boks were leading the way recently, but that is not the case with Ireland. The Irish are ranked as the best, simply because they are the best.

France Fights Back To Break Australian Hearts

The Les Bleus always were favored to floor the Wallabies, but while that prediction came to fruition, the manner in which it came about was completely unpredictable.

Australia produced what arguably was its finest performance of the season, going toe to toe with the Six Nations champions and early Rugby World Cup 2023 favorites.

In front of a packed Stade de France, the Wallabies erased a six-point halftime deficit to lead 29-25 with five minutes remaining. That second-half surge included a stunning team try that originated from brilliant defense and a turnover possession inside Australia’s own 22.

Alas, the Wallabies’ best efforts were not enough, as France wing Damian Penaud left two Australian defenders flat on their faces, using stunning footwork down the right flank to strike the telling blow that sent the crowd into delirium in the 77th minute.


France illustrated why it is widely considered the favorite to win the World Cup, but if there’s one lesson to be learned from this game, it’s that the Wallabies never should be written off.

Based on this performance, it is clear they ought to be looked at as RWC contenders.

Argentina Floors England At The Home Of Rugby

Twickenham is considered the holy ground within English rugby. England rarely loses a game there. They certainly haven’t lost to Los Pumas there in the last 16 years. Additionally, England was on a 10-match winning streak against the visitors.

That all changed, as an Emiliano Boffelli-inspired Argentina floored the English 30-29, despite trailing by four at the midway mark. 

So assertive and potent was Argentina’s backline, that England’s highly rated trio of Marcus Smith, Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi hardly featured.

Boffelli was the star of the show, contributing 25 of his team’s points via a try and six penalties on a wet day to give Argentina a morale-boosting victory and the first of a brutal schedule on European soil.


Drawn in Pool D, England and Argentina are penciled in to clash in their opening match at the World Cup. This result adds an intriguing outlook, as it proves England will not have it all its own way come kickoff in Marseille on Sept, 9, 2023.

New Zealand Whips Woeful Wales

Wales’ wait for a victory against New Zealand will go into its 70th year, after the All Blacks clinched another comprehensive win in this one-sided fixture.

The game was over as a contest within the opening 20 minutes, with the All Blacks running the Welsh defense ragged. 

The men in black were ruthless in their pursuit of putting on a show and clinical in their execution. They outscored the Dragons eight tries to two to register a 55-23 win.

The match was so one-sided that it is difficult to give a thorough report card on either side. 

Were the All Blacks exceptional, or was Wales just so abysmal that the Kiwis pounced and exploited its weaknesses? Or was it both?

Those questions will be answered in the coming weeks. For now, the fact remains that Wales is no match for the All Blacks.


Codie Taylor, Jordie Barrett and Aaron Smith crossed the line for two tries apiece, but Ardie Savea once again produced a typical Ardie Save performance to highlight the fact that he has been New Zealand’s best and most consistent player in 2022 and now is the clear favorite for the World Rugby Player of the Year award.

Scotland Survives Fiji Scare

Scotland was made to work hard for this win, as Fiji showed it is no pushover.

The Fijians dominated the first half, but a self-converted try on the stroke of halftime by Adam Hastings meant Scotland edged ahead 14-12 at the break.

More and more errors crept into Fiji’s game, but they still limited the Scots to just two tries in the second half.

Overall, Fiji gave a good account of itself against a more settled and experienced opponent.

Scotland on the other hand, may have ticked the winning column, but coach Gregor Townsend will look at this display with concern. 

Scotland needs drastic improvement to stand any chance against New Zealand this coming Saturday.


The omission of Finn Russell was a mistake. Scotland’s attack is much more limited and one-dimensional without him, as opposed to with him. 

Fortunately for Scottish fans, management has seen the error of their ways and has recalled Russell for the remainder of the Autumn Series.

Italy Stuns Static Samoa

Italy ran the Samoans ragged en route to a 49-17 triumph. 

It was an unexpected, but completely understandable outcome. With five debutants in the 23-player roster, this is a young and inexperienced, but exciting, Samoan team.

Italian backs Pierre Bruno and Monty Ioane – who is of Samoan and Fijian descent – both bagged a brace of tries, while Tommy Allan and Paolo Garbisi knocked over 8-of-9 place-kicks between them.


Italy must stick with the Garbisi-Allan axis.

In the past, Allan failed to deliver in the big moments when playing fly-half. The introduction of the 22-year-old Garbisi has been a revelation.

Unlike Allan, he has shown himself to be a man for the big occasions. Playing the two in tandem as the fullback/fly-half partnership has done wonders to Italy’s attack.