The autumn tests are here and we're going to Cardiff! That does not sound right, right? I think before that, Aberdeen was the longest way I've traveled to Scotland in November. So it's a new experience for us all.
It may be strange, but it will soon become the norm, as this is the new order of international rugby. The home unions have been thinking about it for a while, and although England played all the opponents of the Southern Hemisphere this month, Ireland and Italy have jumped on this new move and face each other.
Scotland, which plays Wales this afternoon, is basically a commercial decision that has some rugby advantages.
Scotland coach Gregory Townsend can only pick men from Edinburgh and Glasgow
The SRU and its Welsh counterparts need as much income as possible, because it is the international game that finances the entire sport in both countries – and no nation is overflowing with money. The pro game is putting a huge strain on this revenue as it keeps getting harder and more expensive to keep the two professional teams in the Pro14 and in Europe competitive.
The TV money and sponsorship for the two teams are nowhere near enough to meet the budgetary needs that Edinburgh and Glasgow need to keep their best players and attract new players with a sufficiently high standard. This is the turnover achieved in international competition.
The next month is a very profitable time for Scottish rugby as the three home games against Fiji, South Africa and Argentina are sold out. That's fantastic on many levels. great atmosphere, great viewer experience, inspiring for the players and tremendously important for bank balance improvement.
Playing Scotland against Wales on Saturday afternoon is basically a business decision
It was not so long ago that we brought the "lesser" of the three autumn tests to Aberdeen or more recently to Kilmarnock because of the low demand for tickets. With the team winning in Murrayfield right now, demand means that all three are in the National Stadium. Another decision due to the economic factors!
So we are back in Cardiff only nine months after this terrible experience in the Six Nations. I thought I had two years to return to the scene, but here we are – and before my therapy is over …
As a reminder: 34-7. I did not see it coming. Not many have done it.
Scotland had played really well in the autumn trials, almost defeating the All Blacks and beating the Wallabies. The trust was sky-high, which was probably the cause of the problem. Maybe the players thought they had broken it. What a sobering experience Cardiff was.
Gregor Townsend admitted he made the wrong choice, but he learned a lot that day.
Selecting the team is more predictable today, as Townsend can only pick men from Edinburgh and Glasgow and hurt certain players.
I think it was straightforward to go with the strikers of Edinburgh, Jonny Gray and Ryan Wilson, and Glasgow's back and Blair Kinghorn. It's a great opportunity for Kinghorn to shine without hurting the injured Stuart Hogg.
It could also be a redemption day for Ali Price. He had a game to forget in February. This game really influenced him. His self-confidence was shaken and it took him a long time to recover. He seems to be at peak performance again this season.
He's in Adam Hastings, who has the chance to reach another level. He was in shape for Glasgow and controlled the games.
As Warren Gatland said, he is targeted by Wales, but that's normal for a break and I think Hastings will handle it well.
He is not the finished article, but he seems to be an alternative to Finn Russell. In such a key position as a spacer you need options, and we'll see in Cardiff if we have that in Hastings right now. I think we will do it.