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International Rugby - Rugby Union: International action gets started

An action-packed month of international rugby gets under way on Saturday when England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland face southern hemisphere opposition.

The northern hemisphere powerhouses earned some hugely impressive victories in November 2021, getting the better of their southern hemisphere counterparts in the Autumn Nations Series on home soil.

England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland embark on three-Test tours of Australia, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand respectively in July.

With the World Cup set to take place between 8th September and 28th October next year, this run of fixtures offers the major nations a big opportunity to gauge where they stand.

What

Australia vs England, first Test

Where

Optus Stadium, Perth

When

10:55, Saturday 2nd July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsAustralia 8/11, England 11/10

Jones eager to see England response

England's three-Test tour of Australia begins in Perth on Saturday with both nations looking to get back on a positive path.

Eddie Jones' side head Down Under on the back of three successive defeats, losing to Ireland and France in the Six Nations before going down 52-21 against the Barbarians at Twickenham on 19th June.

Jones has unsurprisingly come under pressure following those results and his long-term future has been questioned.

Traditionally, a trip to Australia might not be regarded as the best way to get back on track, however, England's recent record against the Wallabies does offer hope.

England, priced at 11/10 to pick up a win in Perth, have beaten Australia in each of the last eight meetings across three different countries, including an emphatic 40-16 victory at the 2019 World Cup.

Australia, who can be backed at 8/11, are also riding a three-game losing streak after going down to Scotland, England and Wales in the Autumn Nations Series.

Courtney Lawes has been named as England captain despite former skipper Owen Farrell returning to the side following injury. Farrell is set to start at inside centre with Marcus Smith deployed at number 10 and Danny Care, who wins his first cap in almost four years, at scrum-half.

Billy Vunipola comes back in at number eight, while his brother, Mako, is among the replacements with uncapped wing Henry Arundell also on the bench.

Australia have experienced duo Quade Cooper and Nic White at fly-half and scrum-half respectively, while lock Cadeyrn Neville will make his debut aged 33.

What

New Zealand vs Ireland - first Test

Where

Eden Park, Auckland

When

08:05, Saturday 2nd July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsNew Zealand 2/9, Ireland 10/3

All Blacks out for revenge

New Zealand have dropped from second to third in the world rankings after ending 2021 with back-to-back defeats.

One of those losses came against Ireland, losing 29-20 in the Autumn Nations Series, and the All Blacks will be seeking revenge on in Auckland on Saturday.

A run of 10 games unbeaten on home soil will give New Zealand the belief that they can prevail against Ireland as they look to avoid suffering three successive test losses for the first time since 1998.

Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is set to be in charge of New Zealand in the absence of regular head coach Ian Foster.

The hosts are without Will Jordan, Jack Goodhue and David Havili, but Chiefs wing Leicester Fainga'anuku is set to make his debut on the left flank.

Ireland's last Test in New Zealand ended in a 60-0 defeat in 2012 but the current squad, under Andy Farrell, is far stronger and should be more competitive.

They fell to a 32-17 loss against the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton on Wednesday and Keith Earls is the only player to retain his spot in the XV.

Cian Healy sustained an injury in that defeat and is named on the bench with Peter O'Mahony set to start at blindside flanker.

What

South Africa vs Wales - first Test

Where

Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

When

16:05, Saturday 2nd July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsSouth Africa 1/16, Wales 7/1

Wales looking to make history

Wales arguably face the toughest test of any of the home nations in July as they take on world champions across three Tests.

The Dragons have failed to pick up a single victory in 10 previous Tests in South Africa, losing by an aggregate score of 415-137.

In the 37 meetings between the two nations since they first clashed in 1906, Wales have won just six and five of those have come in Cardiff.

Wayne Pivac's side lost four of their five outings in the 2022 Six Nations, finishing fifth with only Italy performing worse over the campaign and he has made eight changes from the XV that lost to the Azzurri in the final round of Six Nations fixtures in March.

Uncapped Leicester Tigers flanker Tommy Reffell will make his debut for Wales after being handed a spot in the back row alongside Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

Kieran Hardy starts at scrum-half with British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones named as a replacement.

What

Argentina vs Scotland - first Test

Where

Estadio 23 de Agosto, Jujuy

When

20:10, Saturday 2nd July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsArgentina 4/9, Scotland 7/4

Scotland hold edge over Pumas

After a nervy Six Nations campaign, which saw Scotland win just two of their five outings, a trip to Argentina offers Gregor Townsend's men the chance to steady the ship.

A passionate fanbase in Argentina will undoubtedly boost the hosts' hopes, but Scotland can take confidence from recent encounters.

Argentina beat Scotland in the 2011 World Cup, but have lost each of the last five encounters, while the Scots have won on their last five visits.

Blair Kinghorn has been given the nod to start at fly-half for the visitors with regular number 10 Finn Russell not available. Townsend has also recalled Worcester Warriors wing Duhan van der Merwe to his XV.

July could be a crucial month for Argentina with new head coach Michael Cheika now at the helm. The Australian will be hoping to stamp his mark on the squad as quickly as possible in the hope of reviving their fortunes ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

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