Fixtures revealed for ‘Eight Nations’ with tournament to begin on November 13 when Ireland host Wales as England kick-off against minnows Georgia… and matches will still go ahead even if fans aren’t back
- The fixtures for the upcoming ‘Eight Nations’ have now been officially revealed
- Tournament, named the ‘Autumn Nations Cup’, gets under way on November 3
- England kick off their campaign with a match against minnows Georgia
- Japan pulled out of the tournament due to difficulties with global travel
The ‘Eight Nations’ autumn rugby schedule can finally be revealed with the emergency tournament opening on the ominous date of Friday November 13 when Ireland face Wales in Dublin.
That match at the Aviva Stadium will kick-off a bumper schedule of Tests involving the Six Nations teams, plus Georgia and Fiji.
The tournament – dubbed the ‘Eight Nations’ before today’s confirmation – will be named the ‘Autumn Nations Cup’.
England will begin their ‘Eight Nations’ tournament with a match against minnows Georgia
As Sportsmail revealed in July the tournament will be split into two pools. England, Wales, Ireland and Georgia are in Pool A, and France, Scotland, Italy and Fiji are in Pool B.
Japan were meant to play instead of Georgia, but pulled out due to difficulties travelling to Europe during the coronavirus pandemic.
England will host three Tests at Twickenham – providing a timely financial boost for the RFU – with home games against Georgia, Ireland and a ‘finals weekend’ placing match.
Once the Pool stage is complete the top seeds will face off on December 5 and 6 to complete the tournament, as will those placed second, third and fourth.
Ireland’s home matches will be played at the Aviva Stadium – against Wales, Georgia and a finals game – and Scotland will face France and Fiji at home as well as host Georgia for their placing match.
Sportsmail understands the tournament will go ahead even if fans are not back in stadiums
Wales’ home venue is yet to be confirmed. If fans are allowed in grounds it is likely their games are to be played in London at a football stadium, as their home stadiums are too small to make them viable.
France and Italy are also yet to confirm their venues for the match, but Sportsmail understands the tournament will go ahead even if fans are banned from grounds as the nations need to satisfy broadcast and sponsorship contracts.
Ben Morel, CEO Six Nations Rugby commented, ‘We are absolutely delighted to formally announce details of the Autumn Nations Cup. A significant amount of time and effort has gone into delivering this new tournament format in testing circumstances and the spirit of collaboration amongst key stakeholders has been outstanding.
‘While the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic made the traditional Autumn Test window unfeasible, we remained determined to deliver a unique and compelling tournament proposition which would ensure world class rugby for our fans globally, and competitive matches for players, unions and federations.
‘We cannot wait for the tournament to get underway in November and fans can look forward to some outstanding matches featuring some of the greatest players in the world. We are especially pleased to be joined by Fiji and Georgia and expect them both to be tremendous additions to the competition.’
On the day England play Ireland at Twickenham the Women’s Red Roses side will face France in a Test double-header – their second of two matches against their cross-Channel rivals – as Sportsmail revealed in July.
RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said: ‘While it has not been possible to go ahead with our four originally scheduled Quilter Internationals, we have worked hard with the Six Nations and other unions to make sure we can deliver an exciting updated schedule of Quilter Internationals given all the challenges Covid-19 has placed on international travel.
Tournament begins on ominous date of Friday November 13 when Ireland face Wales in Dublin
‘We remain cautiously optimistic about the return of fans to the stadium for the Quilter Internationals and look forward to hearing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the detail following yesterday’s government update. We will provide more information in due course.’
England boss Eddie Jones added: ‘We have a new competition format this autumn and are expecting four quality Tests which will be a good challenge for us. It will be great to get back to Twickenham. We have incredible fans and value their support – we want to play tough, vibrant rugby and make them proud.
And Wales head coach Wayne Pivac added:
‘International rugby has been hugely missed and we can’t wait to get back underway this Autumn with six great fixtures.
‘We kick off our run of matches with a hit out against France in preparation for our Six Nations encounter against Scotland which is important as it concludes the 2020 Guinness Six Nations. It is a match where we will want a big performance.
‘We will then look at the Autumn Nations Cup and 2021 Guinness Six Nations as a 20-week, two-block format. The Autumns are another opportunity to further fine tune our game and develop individuals in our quest to add to an already exciting squad. All this of course with a view to be peaking for the Six Nations.
‘We are hugely excited to be meeting back up as a squad in a few weeks. It has been a tough year for everyone so we are hoping international rugby can provide some relief and enjoyment for supporters and sports fans alike.’
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