What a difference a week makes! Seven days after the southern hemisphere struck a solid blow in the quartet of three-Test series, it was time for a response from the north.
Ireland and Wales both made history with their first-ever wins on New Zealand and South African soil respectively, while England levelled their series in Australia and Scotland bounced back to make it 1-1 against Argentina.
Prior to that, France were given a scare but emerged victorious in Japan, leaping to the top of the world rankings for the very first time as a result, while Italy were beaten in Georgia on Sunday.
This might seem a little harsh on France, who have not lost in more than a year, but we have to give the nod to Ireland after their historic win over the All Blacks.
In 2016 they beat New Zealand for the first time in their history, in Chicago. Two years later came the first win against them in Dublin. They added a third success, again in Dublin last year, but winning in New Zealand is another challenge entirely.
A week after they were reminded of just how clinical the All Blacks can be when given a sniff, this time Ireland gave them nothing.
The home side did not help themselves with their indiscipline, with two yellow cards and a red in the first half, but as we have seen over the past 12 months, a red card is no guarantee of defeat. Ireland never let up though, with Andrew Porter crossing once in each half in the 23-12 win. The 11-point margin of victory is New Zealand’s heaviest home defeat since 1994 when they lost to… France.
Fans of Les Bleus could feel a little hard done by at losing their top spot in these rankings, after all they are now officially the world’s best team for the first time in their history.
The Grand Slam champions travelled to Japan without 13 of their first-choice players from the 2022 Guinness Six Nations but continued to build depth by winning the series 2-0.
After a big second half in the first Test in Toyota, they would have hoped to kick on, but despite Matthis Lebel’s early try, they trailed 15-7 at half-time, only the second time they have trailed at the break under Fabien Galthié.
The second half was a different story, France dominating possession and finally finding a way through as Baptiste Couilloud ran in the match-winner off the back of a scrum in a 20-15 success.
That is now ten wins in a row, equalling the best-ever run for France that dates back to the 1930s. Next up is Australia in the autumn and the chance to rewrite the record books with Dupont and co set to return.
It took approximately 60 seconds to realise that England meant business in Brisbane as Ellis Genge charged over Michael Hooper and set the tone.
In the Wallabies’ favourite stadium, Eddie Jones’ men flew out of the blocks, Billy Vunipola opening the scoring and Owen Farrell making the most of Australian indiscipline to open up a 19-0 lead.
After Jones had taken a chance with his changes including three debuts in the backline for Jack van Poortvliet, Guy Porter and Tommy Freeman, the gamble certainly paid off.
Perhaps most pleasing will be the final 20 minutes. It has been well-documented that England have struggled to close out games so far this year, and as the hour-mark approached, Australia got back to within five points.
From there, England might have started to wonder if history was repeating itself, but instead, they steadied the ship and pulled clear to earn a 25-17 success and set up a decider in Sydney.
A win over the world champions away from home and still only fourth in the power rankings? That is more of a reflection on the performances across the board than on how Wales are doing.
They probably had the lowest expectations going into these July Tests, particularly away to a Springbok side playing in front of full houses for the first time in three years.
Yet it took a last-minute Damian Willemse penalty to beat them in the first Test, and they followed that up with a momentous win in Bloemfontein.
Under the cosh for much of the game, they fought back from 12-3 down to snatch victory thanks to Josh Adams’ try and Gareth Anscombe’s touchline conversion at the death.
For Anscombe, out for so long with a serious knee injury, this is the ultimate redemption, his beautiful wide pass putting Adams in before making it 13-12 under the most extreme pressure.
Completing a series victory will take some doing, particularly with South Africa bringing back some of their big guns for the decider, but Wales have spent all summer confounding expectation.
A week after defeat in the first Test in Jujuy, Scotland needed a response in Salta and they certainly got it.
The first half was very even, Hamish Watson, on the day of his 50th cap, crossing just before half-time for an 8-6 lead for the visitors.
They ran away with it in the second half though, three tries in 23 minutes turning a tight affair into a big win as Mark Bennett, Matt Fagerson and Sam Johnson all grabbed tries.
Just as impressively, Scotland kept Argentina from scoring, despite some extended periods of pressure to record a much-needed 29-6 victory and set up a decider in Santiago del Estero.
One thing that didn’t happen during the game was Watson missed a tackle, his first in international rugby since 2019. At least the win should ease the pain a little.
The Azzurri were looking for a fourth successive victory but their run came to an end in Batumi in a 28-19 defeat to Georgia.
It was the first-ever loss to the Lelos with Davit Niniashvili the spark for the home side.
Georgia crossed three times in the first half to lead 19-13 at the break, Tedo Abzhandadze’s second try putting them back in front after Tommaso Menoncello had put Italy ahead.
The second half was try-less, Georgia edging it three penalties to two to record a famous victory, leaving Crowley looking to bounce back in the autumn.
While it was a disappointing way to finish the summer, Italy have given more opportunities to the likes of Menoncello, Alessandro Garbisi, Ange Capuozzo and Ion Neculai, while the success of their Under-20s means that there are few more players who could be getting the nod in the not too distant future.