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Autumn Nations Cup

Familiar faces lie in wait for Townsend’s Scotland

Gregor Townsend: challenge (pic: SNS Group)

The schedule for the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup has thrown up the intriguing prospect of Scotland coach Gregor Townsend going head to head with his predecessor Vern Cotter.

The Scots have been drawn in Group B for the tournament alongside France, Italy and Cotter’s Fiji, who will visit Murrayfield on Saturday, 28 November (1.45pm).

Townsend took over from the New Zealander in May 2017 after Cotter’s successful three-year tenure saw him leave as the Scots’ most successful coach of the professional era with a record of 19 victories from 36 matches (53% win rate).

The new tournament replaces the cancelled Autumn internationals, with Scotland kicking off their campaign in Italy on Saturday, 14 November (12.45pm) before hosting France in Edinburgh on Sunday, 22 November (3pm), six days before Fiji take to the Murrayfield turf.

Group A sees England take on Wales, Ireland and Georgia. The final weekend of matches will be played on Saturday, 5 December with each team facing off against the team ranked in the same position in the opposite pool.

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“This is an important first step on the international stage for all the nations involved in what will be an exciting series of matches,” said Townsend.

“The Autumn Nations Cup is a welcome return to test match rugby and we face some familiar opposition in Italy and France and a chance to host Fiji, many of their squad we know well through their connections to Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh.

“We are very much looking forward to working with our players again and taking on the challenge of this new tournament. Our squad depth will no doubt be tested over the four-week period.”

Ben Morel, CEO Six Nations Rugby added: “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.”

Channel 4 will show live free to air television coverage of England’s clash with Ireland on November 21 and will also show exclusive live coverage of the inaugural competition’s opening match between Ireland and Wales on Friday, 13 November.

In addition to three live matches, none of which involve Scotland, Channel 4 will broadcast highlights from all the rounds of the eight-team tournament after striking a deal with Amazon Prime Video, who will show a range of games exclusively for Prime Members.

Before the Autumn Nations Cup, the Scots take on Georgia in the capital on Friday, 23 October before heading to Wales for their rescheduled Guinness Six Nations clash on Saturday, 31 October.

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