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The summer international Test series in 2017 offers teams an opportunity for top quality competition as nations move forward to the ultimate selection for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. With world attention riveted on the Lions tour of New Zealand, this year’s other Tests received midland media attention.
For the Home Countries of Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales, the summer Tests offered new competitors a chance to gain international experience as they filled in for known players away on the Lions’ tour.
Perhaps, the standout result of the summer goes to South Africa, which defeated France three matches in France with nearly identical scores: 37-14, 37-15, and 35-12. The Springboks rose to fifth from seventh in World Rugby rankings, their lowest slotting ever. Of course, France have not experienced competitive results in the Six Nations annual championships for many years.
Scotland enjoyed an upset win over Australia 24-19, and a victory against Italy 34-13 before being upset by Fiji 27-22 away.
An inexperienced England squad beat Argentina twice 38-34, and 35-25, giving coach Eddie Jones a chance to look at the younger players.
Ireland had easy games against the USA and Japan, winning three contests handily.
Wales beat Samoa narrowly 19-17 in torrential rain in Apia, and also knocked off Tonga 24-6.
New Zealand will meet the British and Irish Lions twice more in July. Next match is this Saturday in Wellington.
It’s two-years down the road to the first Asian-based, Rugby World Cup in Japan with a few qualifying slots remaining to be filled.
The USA-Canada match this Saturday, July 1, in San Diego will determine which nation advances to the Americas 1 spot. The loser plays the South American qualifier, probably, Uruguay.