World Rugby

Winners And Losers From Round 2 Of The Autumn Nations Series

Winners And Losers From Round 2 Of The Autumn Nations Series

Autumn Nations Series Round Two Wrap Up, Brilliant Azzurri, Rugby's Most Inconsistent Team, New Zealand Unrivalled Rugby Depth And A New MVP.

Nov 14, 2022 by RugbyPass
Winners And Losers From Round 2 Of The Autumn Nations Series

A wild and wonderful weekend would be the most accurate summation of round two of the 2022 Autumn Nations.

There was drama, history being made and most importantly end-to-end action across every fixture. 

As always there was winners and losers, with several noticeable performances out done only by major flops from some heavy favourites. 

Let’s get right into the action and take a look at the biggest highlights, lowlights and who made their mark on the game.

Game Of The Week: Les Bleus Edge The Boks In Marseille

Allez Les Bleus rung around the port city of Marseille as France picked up yet another victory that was built less of French flare and more off a willingness to get down and dirty.

As was the case in Dublin a week ago, the Boks are not far off the pace and had chances to win this game.

Captain Siya Kolisi was a titan once again as he scored a crucial Bok try to get his side back into a game that was quickly slipping away.

Two red cards in this fixture only added to the dram of the game as Pieter-Steph Du Toit saw red early whilst Antoine Dupont ended the game on the side lines following a reckless collision with his former Toulouse teammate Cheslin Kolbe.

Speaking of Kolbe, he was sensational in the game right up until leaving the pitch, his goal kicking was massively improved whilst his overall attacking and defensive games were once again sublime. 

Positively for the Boks, Faf de Klerk appears to be getting back to his best in the scrumhalf role and his goal kicking was an added bonus as the Bok management look to add as many weapons as possible to their squad ahead of the World Cup. 

This clash had the feeling of a precursor to either a World Cup quarter or semi-final clash next year…

Upset Of The Week: Azzurri Shock She Wallabies In Florence

Bravissimo Azzurri! What a win, what a moment and are we seeing the rebirth of Italian Rugby?

You may be thinking “Alright hold your horses here, we have seen Italian victories before”. This one felt different, that unquantifiable force of momentum and sometimes just having something break your way has escaped the Italians for the best part of twenty years.

Not so this weekend in Florence, whilst the Wallabies will know that they had an opportunity to snatch victory with a late conversion, Kieran Crowley’s Azzurri were full value for their win.

A sense of daring do has taken over Italian rugby as is evidenced by the attacking brand that their United Rugby Championship teams are employing. This side is built on a nucleus of incredibly talented young stars the likes of which Italian Rugby has not seen since the advent of professionalism.

Names such as Capuozzo (more on him later), Polledri, Varney and Garbisi are quickly rising through the ranks as international stars. 

Last season’s win in Cardiff in the final round of the Six Nations got the metaphorical monkey off their back having lost 32 consecutive tournament games.  

It would appear this victory was more a springboard for success than a one-off occasion. 

Round one’s thumping of Samoa showed that this side now has the ability to rip opposition defences to shreds.

Beating the hard-hitting Samoans is one thing, beating the Wallabies is another. This young team do not appear to be burdened by failures of the past but rather motivated to drive the sport forward in a country that has seen Rugby be on the brink of disaster for quite some time.

MVP Of The Week: Ange Capuozzo 

Fast becoming one of the best fullbacks in World Rugby, the twenty-three-year-old Toulouse star is simply electric.

On a par with South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe, France’s Antoine Dupont and Wales’s Louis Rees-Zammit in terms of the excitement factor when he gets the ball, Capuozzo will be a star at next year’s World Cup.

Not since the great Diego Dominquez have the Italian’s had such an exciting backline talent capable of turning a game on it’s head.

Having that incredible ability to pass, step and kick at full speed, Capuozzo seems to have an extra gear that only the top 1% of rugby players possess. His two tries in Florence had the Wallabies defence at six’s and seven’s as they just couldn’t mark him when he put his foot on the gas.

Once again Bravissimo Italia! How exciting has Italian rugby become in twelve short months!?!

Biggest Winners: New Zealand Rugby

Winning the Rugby World Cup in the women’s game against an immensely talented England team takes some doing. 

Quite frankly the Black Ferns were sublime as they put their fancied northern hemisphere foes to the sword in arguably the greatest game of rugby in a World Cup history.

On the same day that the Black Ferns were winning their title, New Zealand had two other teams playing as the All Blacks eked out a narrow victory over Scotland in Edinburgh whilst the All Black XV lost narrowly to the Barbarians at a packed Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium.

Why are New Zealand the winners do I hear you ask? Well, how many countries could feasibly put out three world class teams in a single day? The answer none…. South Africa’s Select XV lost to Munster on Thursday whilst their women’s game is still a long way off the pace whilst France, England, Ireland are the next three contenders but once again would just not be able to do it at the moment.

Whilst the jury remains out on whether this All Blacks team can win the men’s World Cup next year, one thing is for certain the player pool in New Zealand remains the best in the world across the board.

Biggest Losers: Argentina 

From heroes to zeroes, world beaters to chumps, two steps forward – one step back, do we need to go on?

Argentina’s 20 – 13 loss to a struggling Welsh side in Cardiff was one of the most disappointing 7-day turn arounds in recent rugby history.

From the highs of picking up a first win at Twickenham in sixteen years, to an uninspiring loss is just part of the rollercoaster that Argentinean fans are currently dealing with.

Seemingly incapable of stringing back-to-back performances, Michael Cheika’s Pumas have the makings of a great side but just cannot seem to back-up performances which is a real concern heading into the World Cup.

Last week’s column was all about his impressive Los Pumas looked but the unchanged side that took to the Principality Stadium was a shell of those that took to Twickenham. 

Lacking a clinical edge, Argentina did not match the Welsh physicality outside of their one try which came on the back of a driving maul with just over ten minutes to play. 

Simply put their day was summed up as Welsh scrumhalf Thomas Williams charged down Juan Cruz Mallia lackadaisical attempt at a clearance kick. The Argentine fullback showed no urgency in either the kick or his attempt to clean up the mistake as the speedy Williams left him for dead to score Wales’s second try.

Outside of Emiliano Boffelli, every Argentinean player would’ve been fortunate to score more than a 5 out of 10 on a performance report card.

Next up is a Scotland side who pushed New Zealand hard in clash where Los Pumas should expect to rebound.

Written by Philip Bendon