Ireland will play host to New Zealand in the Aviva Stadium this Saturday but there are a host of other internationals this weekend from Edinburgh to Florence. Our latest correspondant Tom Tainton takes a look at what other rugby is on offer this weekend starting with a Friday night clash in Cardiff.
Friday night marks the beginning of another round of mouth-watering clashes, as the November schedule gathers pace with six international fixtures.
Cardiff plays host to the first game of the weekend, when Wales take on Fiji (Millennium Stadium, 7.30 KO). After failing to overcome Australia and South Africa in previous weeks, Warren Gatland’s men will be hoping to get back to winning ways against the unpredictable Pacific Islanders.
The Welsh still have painful memories of the shock 38-34 defeat to Fiji in 2007 – a result that saw them unceremoniously dumped out of the World Cup.
After suffering defeat at the hands of Munster, Australia travel to Florence on Saturday to play Italy (Artemio Franchi, 2.00 KO). The Wallabies boast an imperious record in this fixture – they’re unbeaten in 12 meetings between the sides and average 34 points a game against the Italians. Robbie Deans is likely to make personnel changes to keep that record intact.
England look to continue their upturn in form when they face Samoa (Twickenham, 2.30 KO). After dispatching Australia 35-18 last weekend, Martin Johnson can expect a bruising encounter against unfamiliar opponents – England have only met Samoa five times previously, chalking up victory on each occasion.
Following victories over Ireland and Wales, South Africa travel north to Edinburgh to face Scotland (Murrayfield, 2.30 KO). Scotland suffered a 49-3 drubbing at the hands of New Zealand last week, but will be boosted by the news that Springbok winger Bryan Habana misses out with a broken hand. Andy Robinson’s side will be looking to bounce back and end South Africa’s winning streak with a first victory over the visitors since 2002.
Finally, France welcome Argentina to Montpellier on Saturday evening (Stade De La Mosson, 7.45 KO). Despite a comfortable victory over Fiji last weekend ‘Les Bleus’ will not be taking their opponents lightly. Marc Lievremont’s men shipped over 40 points in a resounding 41-13 defeat when the sides met in June.