Ranking our Top 5 Autumn International Matches and Moments
With domestic rugby back and in full swing, attentions are starting to turn towards the new 8 team tournament that will replace the regular autumn internationals. The internationals, usually held over October and November each year are matches that every rugby fanatic looks forward too.
Annually, we get to watch the best of the northern hemisphere take on the best from the south - it often serves up classics and memorable moments.
Here are our top 5:
1. November 2018, Ireland 16 - 9 New Zealand
Between 2013 and 2018 every time these two rugby giants clashed it seemed to serve up something truly memorable.
Ireland, looking for a first ever victory against New Zealand were cruelly denied by a last second try in a 22-24 defeat in 2013. In 2016, Ireland would then record a famous first win, beating the All Blacks 40 - 29 in a historic clash held in Chicago. Licking their wounds, New Zealand returned to Ireland in 2018 seeking revenge. The Irish, now with a victory against the All Blacks under their belts were looking to record a first victory against them on home soil.
In a battle between the worlds highest ranked two rugby sides, it was the Irish who emerged victorious, edging the encounter 16 - 9 thanks to a superb chip and run try from winger Jacob Stockdale.
2. November 2008, Wales 9 - 29 New Zealand
Arguably, there is no better stadium to host an autumn international than the Millennium Stadium in Wales. Under the lights, often with the roof shut, matches are played within a cauldron of noise and drama. One of its most famous encounters saw the visit of New Zealand in November 2008. This match has made our list, not for the result but for 3 famous minutes before the match had even kicked off.
This was New Zealand legend Warren Gatland’s first match as Wales Head Coach against the All Blacks. In the build up to the match, Gatland asked his side what their knowledge of the Haka was.
The Haka, performed by New Zealand before they play every match, is incredibly symbolic. Forged from the countries proud Maori history, the Haka not only prepares the players for the battle ahead but it also carries on a tradition that is centuries old. What Wales didn’t know is that the Haka only ends once a team turns away.
Armed with this knowledge and fully acceptant of the challenge that lie ahead. The Welsh decided to make a stand. Upon the completion of Haka, rather than turn away the Welsh players stood. The result? An almost two minute stand off where neither team refused to budge, creating a tension and drama we had never seen before.
New Zealand viewed the response as a mark of disrespect. Each time these rivals now meet it is always fascinating to see how the Haka is received.
3. November 2010, England 35 - 10 Australia
It is a rivalry that is one of the fiercest in Rugby history, England vs Australia.
In 2010, England were coached by World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson and were struggling. With the 2011 World Cup only a year away, England and Johnson had yet to convince. They needed a stand out performance and where better to get it than a sold out Twickenham against their most bitter rivals.
In a match that saw England play a brand of attacking rugby unaccustomed to what fans had seen before under Johnson, England ran out wide margin winners, earning their first home victory against a southern hemisphere side in over 4 years.
The match is remembered by a superb Chris Ashton try. England playing from underneath their own posts, managed to spread the ball out wide to Ashton, who with the entire pitch to run and numerous Australians to beat, managed to score one of England’s greatest ever tries.
4. November 2012, England 38 - 21 New Zealand
In November 2012, Twickenham played host to England and World Cup holders New Zealand.
Coming into the match, the visitors were in red hot form and were unbeaten in 20 matches. England, having lost to both South Africa and Australia in the build up were still trying to establish their identity under new head coach Stuart Lancaster.
The odds of an England victory were long, but England were able to produce one of the best performances in their history to run out 38 - 21 victors. It is still the biggest margin of victory they have ever had against the All Blacks.
Inspired by 3 second half tries in ten minutes from Brad Barrit, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi, the English onslaught was too much for the All Blacks to handle.
5. November 2018, Wales 9 - Australia 6
It had been 10 years since Wales had beaten Australia, with their last victory against the Wallabies coming in 2008.
During this ten year period, Wales had won 3 Six Nation titles with 2 of these victories being Grand Slams. Despite all of their success Wales simply couldn’t beat Australia. They had lost 7 times by less than a single score. The pressure was building for Warren Gatland and his men to finally beat Australia and announce themselves as one of the tournament favourites leading into the 2019 World Cup.
The game itself was a scrap, with Wales edging a nervy encounter 9-6, however the monkey was finally off their backs.
After this victory Wales were then victorious against the Wallabies in the 2019 World Cup.