There is every chance that this summer will be the last swan song of the July tour. World Cup preparations will guide next year’s calendar and it is likely that a nations championship and cross-border routes will be in place from 2024. As commercially attractive as what comes next , it will be a shame to lose these slow-burning affairs, steeped in narrative and lore as the enemies get to know each other.
Certainly the three-date tangle between Australia and England is a reminder of all that is good about these extended encounters, a collision of two flawed sides balancing the old and the new. While a head coach would typically get three chances to attend a tour in the four years between World Cups, the miserable recent times mean that, for most, this is the only such tour over the years. a disrupted cycle – lending an extra dose of importance.
Eddie Jones’ England left last week on an optimistic exterior, with a good atmosphere in the camp but in recognition of a need for improvement on the pitch, the struggles at the Six Nations have lately been followed by a afternoon to forget against the Barbarians. The England head coach could well enjoy time away from the domestic glare and a visit to familiar grounds for the first time since 2016. Jones is yet to lose to Australia with the England, and for some obvious reason seem to particularly enjoy these encounters.
Although his pre-game pseudo-psychology may wear off, the winning run certainly shows his rather developed understanding of what makes an Australian team tick. That could make the Wallabies his ideal opponents as he tries to get England out of their rut. The RFU have publicly and privately given strong support to their head coach, citing the strength of his record against enemies in the southern hemisphere, which must therefore be maintained.
“You can learn so much about your players and your team on these tours, and we’ve missed that,” Jones explained before his team left for Australia.
“It’s completely different conditions: really hard tracks, flat tracks, abusive crowds. The media are going to be in our face. It’s a really aggressive environment. We have to go after them.
Jonny May’s positive Covid test on arrival in Western Australia was not a promising harbinger of a transformative England tour, but what appears to be a well-rounded first fifteen fell into place quite naturally, even in the absence of perhaps a dozen probable tourists. Jones wrote in his autobiography that to beat Australia you have to “bully the bully”, and it looks like a side chosen with that in mind is reminiscent of the 2016 vintage.
Billy Vunipola is back and an immediate starter tasked with delivering the ball with the front foot; Joe Cokanasiga receives a similar briefing on the wing. Danny Care may not offer quite the same beefy round trip, but his ball speed can be just as important as Jones seeks an aggressive attack, while among the substitutes lurk young plot figures as substitutes Jack van Poortvliet, Guy Porter and Henry Arundell await debuts.
There’s a permanent captain change, with an in-form Owen Farrell overlooked by Courtney Lawes’ more laid-back style. As much as Farrell was ‘very unhappy’ with the decision to remove the captain, it could free up the Saracens playmaker and allow him to focus on developing a partnership with Marcus Smith who surely has to fire if the England again want to convert their coaching words into action.
It’s only the second time Smith and Farrell have started together, their first showing a performance of adjustments and starts as England played with their jigsaw pieces in victory over the Wallabies last October. Dave Rennie’s side looked travel-weary on a largely unforgettable evening after months of high-intensity international rugby.
They will be in better shape for all three fixtures, driven by their improving Super Rugby Pacific squads. The nerve of the team is provided by the Brumbies, who have particularly distinguished themselves this year, while the three selections authorized overseas (Samu Kerevi, Quade Cooper, Marika Koroibete) enamel the bottom line with quality. The two debutants chosen by Rennie are 33 (lock Cadeyrn Neville) and 29 (prostitute Dave Porecki) as he looks to fortify a seemingly vulnerable tight five and round out a squad steeped in young talent over the past two years in the quiet but promising evolution of Rennie. .
It’s a golden sporting decade in Australia, and rugby to be seized. The battle for the eyes is always fierce in a crowded sports market and, unlike Nadine Dorries, Australian audiences are rarely confused as to what they want to focus on. There’s optimism that rugby can once again take pride of place in Australia’s almanac, and a win over their former foes – little unites the country like a win over England – could be a real blow. whip to start ten exciting years.
The 3-0 series loss last time out still stings, and there will be fun if they want to end Jones’ unbeaten run against his former employers. But, excitingly, any series score is perfectly conceivable – England and Australia could just send off the summer tour with a series to savor.
New Zealand v Ireland
The manner in which the Maori All Blacks lost in midweek will have shaken Ireland’s otherwise well-placed confidence as they aimed for history in New Zealand. Not much has gone well for Ireland’s second-string team, with few fringe candidates pushing their case for increased involvement, and a number of injuries will give Andy Farrell the kind of headaches he might rather be getting himself into. pass.
Still, there’s a feeling New Zealand may not have the same air of invincibility that usually accompanies the All Blacks at Eden Park, where they haven’t lost in 28 years. Not only have Ian Foster and his coaching staff been hit by Covid, but there are apparently doubts over the direction of the team under Foster, who has yet to really decide how best to use resources. unrivaled game play at its disposal. With Ireland’s well-oiled machines largely back in motion, hopes have never been higher for the end of their New Zealand duck.
South Africa vs Wales
Business for Wales is not easy either. In their first game from their Italian home, it’s in the thinner air of Pretoria that Wayne Pivac’s side will tire next, taking on a fully-loaded Springbok side with the prospect of a home crowd for the first time in a long time. . Any loss to Italy will increase the focus on a head coach, but it is believed Pivac could be in particular danger if this tour also heads south rapidly.
But excluding Wales altogether would be hasty. They showed running near France in the Cardiff defeat that they could handle physical rigors, and under Pivac they had a habit of following deep lows with their most promising highs. The fearsome South African pack may still be able to wield their apparent authority, but with the shrewdness of debutant Tommy Reffell and a handful of half-forwards ready to strike, Wales are well equipped to pounce if the South Africa is slow to get going.