BBC BLOGS - Sport Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Who will fall at the 'autumn' hurdle?

Post categories:

Carl Hicks Carl Hicks | 12:15 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2007

As summer finally seems to have replaced the monsoons across the country, the autumn rugby union international season has arrived in the northern hemisphere, which comes early this year due to the forthcoming Rugby World Cup. The prize is huge for the players, with places in the final squad of 30 for each country in the World Cup confirmed after this weekend.

BBC TV cameras will be live at Murrayfield on Saturday for the duel between Scotland and Ireland (2.10pm, BBC ONE) while there will also be highlights of England v France (7pm, BBC THREE and also at 3pm on Sunday, BBC TWO).

Ireland's hard-fought 19-18 win over Scotland in March secured them the Triple Crown

There are a number of interesting side stories to the clash in Edinburgh, not least the fact that when Ireland clinched the Triple Crown in Scotland last March the headlines were dominated by Eddie O'Sullivan's allegation that an unknown Scottish forward had tried to choke his fly-half Ronan O'Gara in the closing moments - a charge vehemently refuted by the Scots.

Meanwhile, Scotland's rugby followers may feel that the life is being choked out of the game itself, after the loss of the Borders franchise and the huge problems between Edinburgh and the Scottish Rugby Union. The transfers of stars such as Simon Taylor (to Stade Francais) and Chris Paterson (to Gloucester) mean that only six of Saturday's starting 15 will play their club rugby in Scotland - even if the Edinburgh row is resolved. At least the Scots can welcome back their captain Jason White and scrum-half Mike Blair who both missed the last Six Nations through injury.

By contrast Ireland seem to have had the least troubled preparation for the World Cup - although being in the 'group of death' with hosts France and their summer tour conquerors Argentina they may need all the help they can get. Saturday's match is a crucial one for former GB rugby league winger Brian Carney in his quest to make the cut for the World Cup.

Full back Geordan Murphy is another in need of a big game to clinch selection - and he will have to cope with the memory that his 2003 World Cup hopes were shattered in this fixture four years ago when he suffered a broken leg.

Ireland are rightly favourites for this one, but with so much at stake individually for players it can make these occasions strained for teams - if there is only one spot on the wing left in the Ireland squad, how would Tommy Bowe feel if Carney skips in for a long-range try, or vice versa? Like trial games at junior levels these are difficult games for players and coaches.

John Inverdale will lead our coverage of this match with Keith Wood, Jonathan Davies and Gregor Townsend providing the opinions on who should make sure their passport is in order. Commentary will be led by Eddie Butler with Phillip Matthews and Andy Nicol dissecting the action while Jill Douglas will put the questions pre and post match.

It's good to be back!

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.