Talking Points from Round 2 of the Autumn Nations Series

Round 2 of the Autumn Nations Series saw France complete a sensational set of victories, England and Wales bouncing back and Italy making a huge statement.

Round 2 of the Autumn Nations Series saw France complete a sensational set of victories, England and Wales bouncing back and Italy making a huge statement.

It was so nearly a weekend of perfection for the Guinness Six Nations sides, winning all five Saturday contests, but Scotland fell just short against the All Blacks in their bid to make it a clean sweep on Sunday.

Ireland were also victorious as they joined France and Italy on two wins from two.

Here is everything you need to know from Round 2 of the Autumn Nations Series.


It had already been one of the best years in Italian rugby history after victory over Wales in Round 5 of the Guinness Six Nations, as well as a first win in Romania since 1991 and last week’s 49-17 win over Pacific Nations Cup winners Samoa.

But a first-ever victory over Australia in Florence makes this a contender for their greatest ever year (although 1997 probably still holds that title).

Ange Capuozzo was back into the side and his hotly anticipated return did not disappoint, scoring two tries as the Azzurri defeated the Wallabies 28-27.

Their last win over a tier 1 side from the southern hemisphere was in 2016 when Conor O’Shea’s Italy edged South Africa 20-18, but they failed to back that up, losing to Tonga the following week.

It feels as though something special is brewing under Kieran Crowley this time though and there could not be a better test of their progress than a hurting Springboks side – Can they go one better than 2016 and make this definitively their best-ever year?


France were already Grand Slam winners with a new national record of 11 consecutive victories.

Having beaten Australia last week in dramatic fashion, there was only one team from the Guinness Six Nations and Rugby Championship they had not beaten in the past 12 months – South Africa.

Pieter-Steph du Toit’s early red card for a head butt on Jonathan Danty gave France an extra man for 70 minutes, but South Africa proved just why they are the reigning world champions by sticking right with the home side to trail just 16-10 at half-time.

It was 19-13 when the game was turned on its head once again, with France captain and talisman Antoine Dupont sent off for taking Cheslin Kolbe out in the air.

Kurt-Lee Arendse’s incredible finish saw France really under the cosh, but even without Dupont they found a way to win, when Sipili Falatea dived over late on to seal a famous 30-26 win and a first France victory over the Springboks since 2009.

The Marseille crowd were treated to a feast and France showed their incredible self-belief to give them the title of real world beaters – now they look to make it 13 wins in a row against Japan on Sunday.


It has been a bizarre few months for Wales and Wayne Pivac, losing to Italy in Cardiff, before going on to make history with a first-ever win over the Springboks in South Africa just a few months later and then conceding a record 55 points against New Zealand last week.

Their direction was unclear heading into a clash with an Argentina side who were starting to show real signs of promise after historic wins in Christchurch and London.

But Wales went back to basics, did not allow the Pumas to get settled and while it may not have been the prettiest display, they got the job done in a 20-13 win.

It has put them back on track, but now it is about building on that victory and they have the perfect opportunity to do so, with Georgia and Australia still to come at Principality Stadium.

If Wales can win those two matches, there will be genuine optimism, but for now they will have to settle for that winning feeling again.


After another Guinness Six Nations campaign in which England could only muster up two victories from five, they went to Australia and won just their second-ever series Down Under but followed that up with defeat to Argentina last weekend.

This week against Japan, there was a need for a response, and England certainly showed that scoring seven to put the Brave Blossoms, who only lost to New Zealand 38-31, to bed in a 52-13 win.

Freddie Steward was once again at his magnificent best, while Guy Porter put in his best display in an England shirt with two tries at Twickenham.

There are still questions being asked on the Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell 10-12 partnership, but with Smith scoring twice and Farrell looking back to his best, there may be something gelling there.

The All Blacks await them next weekend in what will be a really intriguing battle, before England face South Africa in what are two very important weeks in the tenure of Eddie Jones.


When Scotland led New Zealand 23-14 with little more than 15 minutes left on the clock, it looked like history was about to be made.

Finn Russell was at his best, Stuart Hogg was impressive and Darcy Graham did what Darcy Graham does and scored a world class try, but in the end, the All Blacks found something from deep and scored 17 unanswered points to maintain their perfect record over Scotland.

Gregor Townsend must take a lot of heart from this performance, which was undoubtedly their best of the Autumn Nations Series, but it was a feeling of déjà-vu for Scottish supporters, who have seen their side take commanding leads against Argentina and Australia in recent matches but fail to cling on to win.

In order to make that next step Townsend will need to address this lack of killer instinct, and if he can do that, they will be a real threat to anyone.


This was a very young Ireland side given the task of taking on a perennially underrated Fiji team in Dublin and those who expected it to be easy were quickly proven wrong.

Kalaveti Ravouvou gave Fiji an early lead and immediately it was a proper test of Ireland’s young stars’ character.

Through two Nick Timoney tries and a Robert Baloucoune score, Ireland did lead 21-10 at half-time and when Albert Tuisue was sent off, any chance of an upset was essentially killed off as Ireland went on to win 35-17.

Andy Farrell has since said he was not overly delighted by the performance, but to keep winning when making that many changes is important and heading into a tasty clash with Australia next Saturday night, Ireland will be confident they can keep up their winning run.