The giants of Southern Hemisphere rugby make the long trip north to face the best that Europe has to offer over four weeks of compelling Autumn Internationals.
Sky Sports has exclusive live coverage of all England home tests at Twickenham, while BBC TV has live coverage of Wales, Scotland and Ireland’s tests, plus highlights of England’s games on BBC Three.
All four home nations will be hoping to showcase their progress ahead of the Six Nations next spring and improve their ranking ahead of the draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup this December.
In addition, ESPN will screen live coverage of France’s home test match against Australia, as well as Italy’s home fixtures against Tonga, Australia and New Zealand.
It all forms part of a busy month of intense international rugby union, with a total of 18 autumn test matches being broadcast from November 10 to December 1.
England’s tricky autumn series begins against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday, November 10.
Stuart Lancaster’s men then move on to face the daunting prospects of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on consecutive weekends, all of which are live on Sky Sports and selected tests on Sky 3D.
Despite winning their third Six Nations grand slam in eight years back in the spring, Warren Gatland’s Wales are looking to get back to winning ways after losing all three of their summer Test matches with Australia.
Many Welsh fans believe this autumn is the time for their team to start delivering against the might of the Southern Hemisphere, on the back of a World Cup semi-final and a Grand Slam in the past twelve months.
But of the 26 meetings against the original tri-nations sides in the professional era, Wales have won just 3 times and drawn once, and since Gatland took over in 2007, Wales have won just one (against Australia in Cardiff, 2008).
Four tough matches against facing Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia lie ahead for Wales this Autumn, with every match live on the BBC.
Scotland go into the autumn internationals having enjoyed a recent unbeaten tour to Australasia during the summer.
While wins against Samoa, Fiji and a weakened Australia will give them encouragement, Andy Robinson’s side will have to put on a convincing performance in their opening game against world champions New Zealand, and in subsequent tests against South Africa and Tonga, to prove the side’s doubters that are making progress.
Following an indifferent run of results during the Six Nations and their summer tour, Ireland play two tests this autumn against South Africa and Argentina.
They will be without their talisman Brian O’Driscoll for the duration of their autumn series, and there are further injury headaches for Declan Kidney with Ulster hooker Rory Best also missing due to a neck injury.
Ireland’s A-side also play Fiji on the second weekend.
Elsewhere, Italy play three autumn tests against Tonga, New Zealand and Australia, while France face Australia in Paris. All these matches will be broadcast live on ESPN.
Four busy weekends of international test match rugby lie in wait for the world’s elite teams.
While the next Rugby World Cup in England is still more than three years away, the events during the Autumn Internatinals may have a direct bearing on shaping the outcome in 2015.
They are latest building block in a four-year cycle between global gatherings, and a chance for the home nations to assess their options before the Six Nations, blood some new players, and claim the odd southern hemisphere scalp.
This year’s matches have an added edge given that the draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup will take place on Monday, December 3, two days after the forthcoming international series ends, meaning World Cup seedings will also be at stake this autumn.
Details of when and where to watch the 2012 Autumn Internationals:
Sat 1 Dec – v NEW ZEALAND – 14:30 – Sky Sports 1 / Sky 3D
England save the very best until last as they face world champions New Zealand in their last international of the autumn.
The home side have lost their last nine matches against the All Blacks, and face a daunting task against the 2011 World Cup winners.
Steve Hansen’s side racked up 16 successive Test wins earlier this year, narrowly failing to equal the record for most victories by a top-tier nation.
They also won the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, the enlarged successor to the Tri-Nations.
In contrast, England are a team in transition under coach Stuart Lancaster, who have been looking to build on this year’s promising displays in the Six Nations.
But disappointing defeats this autumn to Australia and South Africa have put pressure on Lancaster and captain Chris Robshaw.
Alex Payne presents live coverage from Twickenham on Sky Sports 1 HD and Sky 3D. Expert analysis comes from Will Greenwood, Sean Fitzpatrick, Sir Clive Woodward and Dean Ryan.
Match commentary will be provided by Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes, and pitchside reports and interviews come from Graham Simmons.
BBC Three has extended highlights from Twickenham, presented by Jason Mohammad (repeated Sunday at 12.30pm on BBC Two), with analysis from Josh Lewsey and commentary from Andrew Cotter and Lawrence Dallaglio.
Sat 1 Dec – v AUSTRALIA – 14:30 – BBC One
Warren Gatland’s Wales will hope to conclude their miserable autumn international campaign with a morale-boosting victory against the Wallabies.
The Welsh have lost their last seven Tests against Robbie Deans’ men, including three defeats on Aussie soil this summer.
However, those encounters were closely fought affairs, with Australia winning the most recent clash 20-19 in Sydney thanks to a late penalty from Berrick Barnes.
A win is not only vital for Wales in terms of ending the Autumn campaign with their first win, but it also has a huge bearing on where the Welsh will be seeded for Monday’s 2015 Rugby World Cup pool stage draw.
The 2011 World Cup semi-finalists will drop out into the third tier of seeds if they lose to Australia, and would see the Six Nations Grand Slam champions ranked alongside Italy, Tonga and Scotland.
John Inverdale introduces live coverage from the Millennium Stadium, where he will be joined for analysis by Jeremy Guscott and Jonathan Davies.
Match commentary comes from Eddie Butler and Brian Moore.
Welsh language coverage is available on S4C from 2pm.. .
Saturday 10th November Italy 28-23 Tonga Kick-off: 2.00pm | Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia LIVE: 2.00pm-4.00pm – ESPN England 54-12 Fiji Kick-off: 2.30pm | Twickenham, London LIVE: 2.00pm-5.00pm – Sky Sports 1 Highlights: 7.00pm-8.00pm – BBC Three Highlights Repeat: 1.25am (Sun) – BBC One Wales 12-26 Argentina Kick-off: 2.30pm | Millennium Stadium, Cardiff LIVE: 2.00pm-4.30pm – BBC One Welsh language coverage on S4C Ireland 12-16 South Africa Kick-off: 5.30pm | Aviva Stadium, Dublin LIVE: 5.00pm-7.30pm – BBC Two France 33-6 Australia Kick-off: 8.00pm | Stade de France, Paris LIVE: 7.45pm-10.00pm – ESPN Sunday 11th November Scotland 22-51 New Zealand Kick-off: 2.30pm | Murrayfield, Edinburgh LIVE: 2.10pm-4.30pm – BBC One Friday 16th November Wales 19-26 Samoa Kick-off: 7.30pm | Millennium Stadium, Cardiff LIVE: 7.00pm-9.35pm – BBC Two Wales / BBC Sport Website Welsh language coverage on S4C Saturday 17th November Championship XV 52-21 New Zealand Maoris – Invitational Match Kick-off: 12.05pm | Castle Park, Doncaster LIVE: 12.00pm-2.00pm – Sky Sports 1 Italy 10-42 New Zealand Kick-off: 2.00pm | Stadio Olimpico, Rome LIVE: 1.55pm-4.00pm – ESPN England 14-20 Australia Kick-off: 2.30pm | Twickenham, London LIVE: 2.00pm-5.00pm – Sky Sports 1 / Sky 3D Highlights: 7.00pm-8.00pm – BBC Three Highlights Repeat: 12.30pm (Sun) – BBC Two Scotland 10-21 South Africa Kick-off: 2.30pm | Murrayfield, Edinburgh LIVE: 2.00pm-4.30pm – BBC One Ireland XV 53-0 Fiji Kick-off: 5.15pm | Thomond Park, Limerick LIVE: 5.00pm-7.30pm – BBC Two Sunday 18th November France 39-22 Argentina Delayed: 8.30am-10.30am – ESPN Saturday 24th November Ireland 46-24 Argentina Kick-off: 2.00pm | Aviva Stadium, Dublin LIVE: 1.30pm-4.00pm – BBC Two Italy 19-22 Australia Kick-off: 2.00pm | Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence LIVE: 1.55pm-4.00pm – ESPN England 15-16 South Africa Kick-off: 2.30pm | Twickenham, London LIVE: 1.30pm-4.55pm – Sky Sports 1 / Sky 3D Highlights: 7.00pm-8.00pm – BBC Three Highlights Repeat: 2.00pm (Sun) – BBC Two Scotland 15-21 Tonga Kick-off: 3.00pm | Pittodrie, Aberdeen LIVE: 2.45pm-4.45pm – BBC Two Scotland / BBC Red Button Wales 10-33 New Zealand Kick-off: 5.15pm | Millennium Stadium, Cardiff LIVE: 5.10pm-7.30pm – BBC Two Welsh language coverage on S4C Saturday 1st December England 38-21 New Zealand Kick-off: 2.30pm | Twickenham, London LIVE: 1.30pm-5.00pm – Sky Sports 1 / Sky 3D Highlights: 7.00pm-8.00pm – BBC Three Wales 12-14 Australia Kick-off: 2.30pm | Millennium Stadium, Cardiff LIVE: 2.00pm-4.30pm – BBC One Welsh language coverage on S4C . . Live games on Sky Sports and ESPN can be viewed online via Sky Go . All of the BBC’s live games are available to watch online via the BBC Sport website, and on-demand for up to seven days after transmission on BBC iPlayer . .