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Autumn Nations Cup Finals Weekend – all you need to know
We preview the final round of matches in the Autumn Nations Cup, which concludes with Sunday’s title decider between England and France.
This Sunday either England or France will have their names etched on the Autumn Nations Cup, the newest addition to the international rugby calendar.
The cross-Channel rivals face each other at Twickenham to decide the destiny of the title after finishing top of their respective groups following three rounds of hard-fought fixtures.
England saw off Georgia, Ireland and Wales to finish five points clear in Group A, while France defeated Scotland and Italy and were awarded a bonus-point victory for their cancelled match against Fiji to finish top of Group B.
Away from Twickenham, three matches will also take place on Saturday to determine the overall standings of the Autumn Nations Cup outside of the top two.
Ireland face Scotland in the third-place play-off at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Wales take on Italy at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli and Georgia are due to play Fiji in the wooden spoon match at Murrayfield in Edinburgh if the Pacific Islanders get the all-clear to play.
All four matches on ‘Finals Weekend’ will be broadcast live on Prime Video.
“We really haven’t accelerated our rugby”— Autumn Nations Cup (@autumnnations) November 30, 2020
Eddie Jones touches on what England could do better and reflects on the game against Wales #AutumnNationsCup pic.twitter.com/Ef9bFAHp9q
Title decider: England v France, Sunday 6 December, kick-off 2.00pm GMT at Twickenham Stadium, London
The 107th edition of ‘Le Crunch’ and the first in a competition other than the Five/Six Nations Championship or a Rugby World Cup.
Fabien Galthié got his reign as Les Bleus head coach off to a perfect start with a 24-17 win over England in the opening round of this year’s Six Nations, so Eddie Jones’ men will be hellbent on revenge.
France will not be at full strength because of an agreement that restricts the number of matches their players can play during this period, but any fixture between these countries is always keenly fought, especially when silverware is at stake.
58 – England lead the head-to-head with 58 wins to France’s 41. There have been seven draws.
7 – England are on a seven-game winning run dating back to the loss to France in the opening round of the 2020 Six Nations.
5 – The consecutive number of matches England have won against France at Twickenham.
1 – Games lost by Fabien Galthie in his eight matches in charge (28-17 v Scotland at Murrayfield in the Six Nations).
32 – Points accumulated by Owen Farrell, the leading point scorer in the Autumn Nations Cup.
11 – The record-equalling number of debuts awarded by France in their 36-5 win v Italy on Saturday.
Like tries? Well, you're gonna love this one!— Autumn Nations Cup (@autumnnations) November 29, 2020
Enjoy the full highlights of last night's game - @FranceRugby v @Federugby 🇫🇷 🇮🇹#FRAvITA #AutumnNationsCup pic.twitter.com/LjXMXxk7ys
Third-place play-off: Ireland v Scotland, Saturday 5 December, kick-off 2.15pm GMT at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
It’s been a solid if not spectacular campaign for two teams well acquainted with one another.
While Scotland enjoy a narrow advantage in terms of overall wins in a fixture that dates back to 1877, it’s been Ireland who have dominated in recent years.
The 19-12 win in this year’s Six Nations was their fourth in a row against their Celtic cousins. Also, Dublin has not been a happy destination for the Scots with their last win coming there in 2010.
6 – Consecutive losses suffered by Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.
15 – Ireland’s average winning margin over that time.
14 – Ireland have not missed any of their 14 attempts at goal in the Autumn Nations Cup.
12 – Tackle breaks made by winger Duhan van der Merwe, Scotland’s player of the match in the round one win over Italy.
Fifth-place play-off: Wales v Italy, Saturday 5 December, kick-off 4.45pm GMT at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Completing a familiar-looking set of fixtures is Wales v Italy.
The corresponding Six Nations match back in February saw Wales head coach Wayne Pivac begin his reign as Warren Gatland’s successor on a winning note.
Wales won 42-0 in Cardiff that day but a run of six straight defeats followed as they suffered their third-worst run of results of all time.
An 18-0 win over Georgia snapped the streak and Wales battled hard in going down to a 24-13 defeat to England on Saturday.
Italy started off the campaign well and were leading Scotland at half-time in their opening match of the Autumn Nations Cup. But the cancellation of their game against Fiji and a lacklustre 36-5 loss to France has set them back.
In need of a pick-me-up, the Azzurri will be looking to put in a much better performance in Llanelli.
14 – Consecutive wins enjoyed by Wales over Italy, dating back to 2007.
46 – Wales are 46 points shy of racking up 1,000 points in 29 tests against Italy.
5 – The combined number of tries scored by these sides in the group stages of the Autumn Nations Cup.
17 – For a side that has struggled in attack, Italy have surprisingly executed the most offloads in the competition.
The final #AutumnNationsCup standings pic.twitter.com/DOE3trocDk— Autumn Nations Cup (@autumnnations) November 29, 2020
Seventh-place play-off: Georgia v Fiji, Saturday 5 December, kick-off 12.00pm GMT at Murrayfield, Edinburgh
For Fiji, this will feel like their Cup final.
Unable to take part in the group stages due to a coronavirus outbreak, Vern Cotter’s side had to concede all three matches against France, Italy and Scotland 28-0.
If they are able to finally set foot onto the field, they will come up against a Georgia side that has improved incrementally over the course of the three weeks.
The Lelos began with a 40-0 defeat to England, then lost 18-0 to Wales before going down 23-10 to Ireland.
It was a battling display from the east Europeans, who’ll have been relieved to finally score their first points of the tournament through Giorgi Kveseladze’s superb try.
423 – Number of days since Fiji last took to the field in a test match (a 29-17 defeat to Wales at RWC 2019).
4 – Last year’s Rugby World Cup 2019 match in Osaka was only the fourth time the sides have played against each other.
6 – Tries scored by Fiji in that match.
1 – Georgia’s solitary win against Fiji was 14-3 in Suva in June 2016.
143 – Average number of tackles made per match by the Lelos in the ANC.