The northern hemisphere sides are traveling to the other side of the world to take on the might of the tri-nations teams.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding Scotland’s six nations results, performances were encouraging, as were some in the world cup last year.
Finishing games off has always been their issue, but they now have a side which should be able to compete and this result will give them a lot of confidence going into their games in the Pacific Islands.
There they will encounter a physical style of rugby which will put their defence to the test, but keeping Australia tryless, despite the appalling conditions should give them the spur to come home with three wins, and a springboard into next seasons six nations which should see an improvement on this seasons wooden spoon.
Former England coach Andy Robinson has been on the right road for some time, and this result in particular is justification that the SRU were correct in sticking with him.
He is the right man to take Scotland forward, and on the back of Edinburgh’s European Cup semi final exploits, good times could be just around the corner for the long suffering tartan army.
England, Wales and Ireland enter the test arena on Saturday morning. Australia will be looking to bounce back immediately against Wales but the six nations champions will fancy their chances of inflicting consecutive defeats against Australia.
Ireland have a monumental task in taking on the World champions in New Zealand, and given the Irish’s injuries and a squad which is going through something of a transformation anything other than a comprehensive defeat will be looked upon as a success, despite the positive mind frame which is put forward by Michael Kearney and the Ireland management team.
It is in South Africa, where England are playing which looks to be hosting the most fascinating series of games.
South Africa are coming into the game with a new coach who will have new ideas, but there has been a lot of excitement following the appointment of Heyneke Meyer. He has taken the squad and given it a distinctly fresh look, with nine uncapped players in the 32 man squad.
Many believe that this will give England the upper hand, especially with the South Africans having played Super Rugby up until last weekend (along with the Australians and New Zealanders not forgetting).
The England squad have been together for a fortnight and following their more impressive than predicted six nations showing under Stuart Lancaster appear to be on the rise again.
There has been a behavioural crackdown, and the training and work ethic appear to be heading back towards the Woodward
era and away from the Johnson era.
New young talent in key positions will come up against one of the toughest propositions on the rugby field in playing the Boks at altitude, and it will be an invaluable learning process as England’s remoulding continues.
Genuine sports fans of all persuasion will have a weekend to remember with the Football Euro championships kicking off on Friday evening.
But for sports action of the highest order Rugby Union test matches featuring the home nations against the tri-nations in the southern hemisphere are too spectacles not to be missed.
image: © bixentro