1. Ireland’s future is bright
They will have been devastated to lose this series after the winning position that they let slip in Johannesburg last weekend, but what this tour has brought to light is the fact that there is a real wealth of talent in the Irish rugby system.
To travel to South Africa without established and world renowned stars like Johnny Sexton and Sean O’Brien (to name but two) and go so close to winning a series is testament to this talent.
Players like Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Jared Payne showed glimpses of what the future holds but the biggest question now is who will lead them into the Autumn Internationals, as question marks still remain over Joe Schmidt’s future.
2. England know there is more to be done
England completed a series whitewash Down Under for the first time since the Lions of ’71, and are understandably basking in the glow of a very, very fine rugby achievement. But after watching the game on Saturday there was still a sense that England are far from their best and still far from challenging the All Blacks.
Shipping 40 points in any test match will usually mean a loss and England won’t be naïve to that fact. More importantly, nor will Eddie Jones. His post-match interview suggested that he wasn’t completely happy about the performance but the mentality and attitude of this squad makes them humble enough to know the hard work has only just begun.
3. Defence the best form of attack?
This was always going to be an extremely tough tour after an arduous season but for Wales it was more than just the one bridge too far.
Their style of play in attack has finally started to suit their exciting and fast backline. Players like Liam Williams thrived off the quick and open nature of the matches, but defensively it looks like they may be stuck in a time warp.
Shaun Edwards’ methods when he first took charge of the Welsh defensive line were not far from revolutionary as they learnt how to shut people down but defence, as clichéd as it is, is now the best form of attack.
England in their first two tests and Ireland during periods of their series have sought to put huge amounts of pressure on their opponents when they have they ball, hungry to get their own hands on it and launch attacks. It has reaped great success and that will be the blueprint moving forward.
You could argue that may be suicide rugby against the All Blacks, but trying to just tackle until someone makes a mistake could be viewed in the same way.
4. Technology is not a man’s best friend
Are we really at stage in world rugby that we need rules for the intervention of a spider cam? It seems we are after the debacle in the early stages of the second half in Sydney on Saturday.
George Ford’s up and under struck the wire carrying the camera and within three phases this clearly gave England an advantage leading to a score. The fact that the linesman decided to push Stephen Moore in the back before his overthrow that ultimately lead to an England try is another point to be discussed but for Nigel Owens to suggest that no one gained an advantage from the technological intervention may be wide of the mark.
The obvious thing to do was take a scrum where it hit the camera with the last team to play the ball having the put in as would be case if the ball struck the ref.
5. Jones has left his legacy in Japan
Scotland will have to look back on this tour of Japan and count themselves a bit lucky that they have won two from two.
Not to take anything away from Japan because they, along with Georgia, are probably the best Tier Two Nation out there, but their discipline during matches was quite frankly terrible and with the amount of attacking ball they afforded Scotland at the weekend then they should have fallen on their own Samurai sword with the greatest of ease.
That said, Japan showed just why they are considered to be a threat now around the globe with undoubtedly the try of the weekend and straight out of the Eddie Jones attacking manual from the last world cup.
A 90 metre cracker ending with scrum half Kaito Shigeno diving over would have been worth the entrance fee alone but to then shut Scotland out and leave them try-less shows you that their one off test against Wales in November could be closer than some will predict.
6. Top 14 saves best to last
The unpredictable Top 14 season came to a close on Friday evening with a show piece event that will last long in the memory.
Due to that tournament involving a weirdly-shaped round ball, the Stade de France was out of action so more than 90,000 people packed themselves into Barcelona’s Camp Nou for an enthralling encounter between Toulon and Racing 92.
There was a controversial sending off, Juan Imhoff playing 62 minutes at scrum half after the aforementioned early bath for Maxime Machenaud, and then a quite special try from the evergreen Joe Rokocoko as he chased his own chip to touch down.
For Racing to play over an hour with 14 men and still come out on top is quite an achievement against the men of the Cote d’Azur, and could usher in a new era of domination away from the south of France.
By Andy Daniel
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images