July Rugby Tests, Week 2: Everything you need to know for the weekend

Sports

There were plenty of expectations ahead of last weekend’s fixtures, and the games didn’t disappoint.

England and New Zealand delivered an edge of the seat tussle in Dunedin, while Australia got the victory they needed to banish the memory of their woeful World Cup campaign.

Joe Schmidt’s side showed glimpses of the running rugby their fans crave in the win over Wales, but the grit they showed will please their new head coach the most. Crucially, a healthy crowd roared them on in Sydney, which will come as a relief to Rugby Australia bosses.

Across the Indian Ocean, the Springboks proved too strong for Ireland in an entertaining battle, with Andy Farrell left regretting their slow start against the world champions.

The sides that lost will be desperate to level the scores, while the victors will want to stamp their authority and secure a series clean sweep.

Friday, July 12

United States vs. Scotland, Audi Field, Washington, 6:30pm [8:30am Sat AEST, 11:30pm BST]

United States:

Scotland: Team: Kyle Rowe, Kyle Steyn, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu (co-captian), Duhan van der Merwe, Adam Hastings, George Horne, Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge (co-captain), Jamie Ritchie, Scott Cummings, Alex Craig, Murphy Walker, Ewan Ashman, Pierre Schoeman Replacements: Robbie Smith, Rory Sutherland, Elliot Millar Mills, Max Williamson, Luke Crosbie, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson, Matt Currie.

Team News: Scotland have selected a strong starting XV for their one-off test against the United States in Washington D.C. on Friday, including a return to international rugby for fly-half Adam Hastings in his first appearance since 2022. Coach Gregor Townsend has rotated his team from the side who thumped Canada 73-12 last weekend, with Hastings to lead a near first-choice backline.

Jamie Ritchie will earn a 50th cap at flanker, where he forms a back row with Rory Darge and No. 8 Matt Fagerson. The lock pairing is new as Alex Craig wins a first cap in three years and will be partnered by Scott Cummings. Townsend has also selected a new front row with props Pierre Schoeman and Murphy Walker either side of hooker Ewan Ashman.

A potent back three sees winger Kyle Steyn — try-scorer against Canada — named as vice-captain, with Kyle Rowe stepping in at full-back. Van der Merwe, who sits one shy of equalling the national men’s record for tries scored, lines up on the other wing.

Prediction:

Saturday, July 13

New Zealand vs. England, Eden Park, Auckland, 7:05pm [5:05pm AEST, 8:05am BST]

New Zealand:

England:

Team News:

Prediction:

Australia vs. Wales, AAMI Park, Melbourne, 7:45pm, [10:45am BST]

Australia:

Wales:

Team News:

Prediction:

South Africa vs. Ireland, Kings Park Stadium, Durban, 5pm [1:00am AEST, 4:00pm BST]

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Gerhard Steenekamp, Vincent Koch, Salmaan Moerat, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Grant Williams, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Ireland:

Team News: South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus named the same match-day 23 for the second test against Ireland in Durban on Saturday, making it the most experienced Springbok selection chosen in the 133-year history of the team.

Erasmus made no changes to his starting XV from the side who claimed a 27-20 win over Ireland in the first test in Pretoria, and has kept faith with the same bench too. The starting lineup have 990 test caps between them, edging ahead of the side for the 2023 Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand in Paris in October last year, which had 987.

“We don’t really look at such things when we select the team, but this shows how blessed we are with the depth in the squad and the quality of the players we have,” Erasmus said.

“While it may be an impressive statistic, it will by no means guarantee us a victory. We know we must go out there and play good rugby for the full 80 minutes to get the desired result.”

Prediction:

Argentina vs. France, Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires, 4pm [5:00am AEST, 8:00pm BST]

Argentina:

France:

Team News:

Prediction:

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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