But coronavirus intervened, and a decision was taken to revert to the old system and have the pools locked in from the world rankings on 1 January 2020, meaning not a single Test match between the last World Cup and the next one will contribute towards the draw for France 2023. It was a decision made in good faith, with the international calendar completely torn up by Covid-19 that would have had a significant impact on the number of matches that contributed towards the rankings, but it rules a significant number of matches rather redundant when it comes to real meaning.
With the Scottish Rugby Union becoming the latest union this week to confirm that no fans will be allowed to attend matches this autumn, there will be the same hollow feeling that surrounded last weekend’s final round of the Six Nations, were even the smallest little thing such as a muted try celebration provides an uncomfortable reminder of the situation surrounding us.
With Twickenham, Murrayfield and the Aviva Stadium closed to the public, and the Principality Stadium completely out of action as the Welsh Rugby Union continue their admirable provision of their services in battling the pandemic, fans will have wanted to soak up the action among their own at pubs and clubs across the country, only for coronavirus to intervene and leave nations locked down in their own living rooms, with many restricted to the offering on Channel 4 of Ireland’s four pool games.
For many, sport will be a welcome outlet of entertainment over the trying period ahead, but challenging it to replace that horrible empty feeling that emerged last weekend is set to be a challenge that not even the most ambitious of unions can achieve over the course of the next four weeks.
Autumn Nations Cup fixtures
Ireland vs Wales, 7pm on 13 November – Channel 4
Italy vs Scotland, 12.45pm on 14 November – Amazon
England vs Georgia, 3pm on 14 November – Amazon
France vs Fiji, 3pm on 15 November – Amazon
Italy vs Fiji, 12.45pm on 21 November – Amazon
England vs Ireland, 3pm on 21 November – Channel 4 and Amazon
Wales vs Georgia, 5.15pm on 21 November – Amazon
Scotland vs France, 3pm on 22 November – Amazon
Scotland vs Fiji, 1.45pm on 28 November – Amazon
Wales vs England, 4pm on 28 November – Amazon
France vs Italy, 8pm on 28 November – Amazon
Ireland vs Georgia, 2pm on 29 November – Channel 4
Georgia vs TBD, 12pm on 5 December – Amazon
Ireland vs TBD, 2.15pm on 5 December – Amazon
Wales vs TBD, 4.45pm on 5 December – Amazon
England vs TBD, 2pm on 6 December – Amazon
This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League. Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri – Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.
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