With the November internationals now done and dusted, we take a look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Scotland.
Scotland gave a good account of themselves in their three Tests against Australia, Argentina and Georgia but will be kicking themselves that they couldn’t finish off their campaign with a cleansweep of victories as they proved with their performances that they deserved just that.
Their only defeat was suffered at the hands of their conquerors at last year’s Rugby World Cup, Australia, and just like their encounter at the global showpiece the men from Down Under claimed a narrow one-point win albeit in less controversial circumstances.
That result would have frustrated Scotland’s head coach Vern Cotter as they were the dominant side for most of that match until a Tevita Kuridrani try, shortly before full-time, broke their hearts.
Scotland’s second match was another close encounter but this time they managed to secure victory thanks to a Greig Laidlaw penalty with the final act of the match.
And they finished off their campaign in style with an emphatic six-try victory over Georgia in Kilmarnock in their final Test of the year.
Although Scotland were without the services of players like WP Nel, David Denton, Ryan Grant and Duncan Weir, several players stepped up, with some impressive individual performances to show that there is some depth in their ranks.
One player who has taken to Test rugby like the proverbial duck to water is outside centre Huw Jones.
After making his international debut against Japan in June, the Stormers stalwart certainly kicked on in the Tests against the Wallabies and los Pumas and delivered brilliant displays, scoring a brace of tries in the former.
He missed the final Test against Georgia due to injury but his form in those two previous Tests was so impressive that the national side wants him to sign for either Edinburgh or Glasgow Warriors if he can be convinced to leave South Africa where he was regular in the Stormers matchday squad during the latter part of Super Rugby.
In the forwards, the Gray brothers cemented their spots as the team’s first-choice locks with impressive performances while the likes of Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury have shown that there is plenty of back row depth as well.
Looking forward, in August it was announced that the Scots will have a new head coach from next June with current Glasgow Warriors boss taking over the reins from Vern Cotter, who is moving on to Top 14 outfit Montpellier.
Cotter has been Scotland’s boss since 2014 and has moulded them into a competitive force on the international stage. And after his side’s impressive displays over the past month, Cotter will be optimistic about their chances in next year’s Six Nations.