After walking their way to the 2021 Rugby Championship earlier this year, the New Zealand All Blacks are now embarking on a tour of the Northern Hemisphere, taking on the elite of European rugby.
Despite what the rankings say, the All Blacks are the world’s best Rugby Union team (they’re officially ranked 2). And they will be looking to complete the clean sweep when they take on the best sides in Europe over the next few weeks.
They are also the betting favorites with the top sportsbooks to win the Rugby World cup when it next takes place in 2023.
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All Blacks demolish the Eagles, but Rugby Union in the USA the real winner
The All Blacks have just been in Washington to take on the USA.
This was merely a warm-up match for the harder contests to come. The match was never destined to be a competitive contest, and so it proved with the Kiwis running out 104-14 winners.
The match-up between the Eagles and the All Blacks was a success though. Due to the match being played outside of the Autumn international window the USA team was not able to call up any players plying their trade in Europe.
This meant the side was made up entirely of MLR players, which will give invaluable experience to these guys ahead of the new season.
And the fact that the Kiwis turned up to play the Stars and Stripes at FedEx Field shows how rugby union is a growing beast in the USA, that is being acknowledged all around the rugby world.
Amazing gesture, thank you @USARugby 👊 pic.twitter.com/AWhqxrWQGq
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 24, 2021
Europe is the real test on the pitch for the All Blacks
Once the All Blacks arrive in Europe, the hard work really begins.
The tour starts off against Wales in Cardiff, before they then visit Rome to take on Italy.
As the tour wears on, the fixtures get tougher. Next up is Ireland in Dublin, before a huge clash against the French in Paris, in what is the match they are most likely to come unstuck in.
Let’s take a look at the Welsh match first.
Wales v New Zealand
The first leg of the European tour is Cardiff to take on Wayne Pivac’s Welsh side.
- Venue – Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
- Date – Saturday, October 30th, 2021
- Time – 12.15pm ET
This is a tough start for the Kiwis, as the Welsh Dragons are a side on the up.
Wales won the 2021 Six Nations championship and were within 10 minutes of completing the Grand Slam of beating all five opponents until an outstanding late rally by the French in Paris finally saw the Welsh lose a match.
I expect the Kiwis to be well up for this though, as they will want to make an early statement – and send out a message to the rest of their opponents.
The Welsh – coached by native Kiwi Wayne Pivac – will want to give them a game, and this should result in an open and exciting game of rugby.
I predict New Zealand will be too strong and will win this match.
I also believe it will be over on the total points market.
Italy v New Zealand
Next up for the All Blacks is Italy in Rome, in what should be a formality.
- Venue – Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
- Date – Saturday, November 6th, 2021
- Time – 9am ET
This match will no doubt see plenty of squad rotation with bigger tests to come.
The current Italian team is the weakest it has been for some time.
In the 2021 Six Nations, they finished in the wooden spoon position with no wins and just 5 bonus points to their name.
In that competition, their points difference was -184, and they conceded a whopping 34 tries in their five matches.
The Kiwis will win no matter what team they put out. So in this match, I will be taking New Zealand to win on the handicap spread.
Ireland v New Zealand
The penultimate leg of the tour is Ireland at the Aviva Stadium – and the whiff of revenge is in the air.
- Venue – Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
- Date – Saturday, November 13th, 2021
- Time – 11.15am ET
The Irish are a team in a period of transition. They seemed to peak 12 months too early for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and are now in the process of putting together a side capable of competing at the next.
During that golden spell for Ireland in 2018, they beat New Zealand 16-9 at the Aviva Stadium. If you think they can repeat that win, the Irish are +350 with BetUS.
This was the only time Ireland has beaten the All Blacks on Irish soil. The only other time Ireland beat the Kiwis was at Soldier Field in 2016.
As alluded to, this is an Irish side in transition. The All Blacks to win on the Moneyline in this match is my pick.
France v New Zealand
The final leg of the tour sees the All Blacks come up against the resurgence French.
- Venue – Stade de France, Paris, France
- Date – Saturday, November 20th, 2021
- Time – 14pm ET
This will be in my opinion the toughest match of the whole tour.
Not only are the French a mightily dangerous side again, but they also have home advantage, and this will be the last match of a grueling month.
If this match were at the start of the tour, I would have no hesitation in picking the All Blacks to win.
And although I believe the All Black will probably still win, I just can’t say they will beat the French with as much confidence, as I can say about the others.
For this match, I’m going to go to the total points market.
I expect a good open flowing match of rugby, and therefore my betting pick for this match is over in the total points.
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With the Autumn Internationals about to start, there is plenty of top-quality rugby action to get stuck into.