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This weekend marks a full card of tour test matches as rugby's leading nations preview lineups for next fall's Rugby World Cup.
Match of the Day - England at New Zealand (June 21) - Waikato Stadium
The third contest of 2014's English tour, the first two won by the All Blacks, coincides with an uncommon statistic; a win for New Zealand would tie the world record for consecutive test victories in a row (17). It was back in December 2012 when the All Blacks lost to England at Twickenham. It will be a tough haul for England, which last won away against New Zealand in 2003. The All Blacks hold a 30-7-1 record against the visitors. England will make seven changes for the game, slotting Freddie Burns at fly-half for the injured Owen Farrell. It's do or die for most of the England team since the next tour to New Zealand will not occur in 2019.
Wales at South Africa (June 21)
The Taffies played the Springboks 28 times. How many Welsh victories? (Answer at end of paragraph.) The anomaly for Wales is how well they play in the Six Nations Championship every year contrasted with how poorly they perform in past Rugby World Cups. Wales have never been in a RWC final, and made the semi-finals only twice in 1987 and 2011. (South Africa 26-1-1)
France at Australia (June 21)
Les Bleus play the Wallabies for the 45th time. Australia hold a 25-17-3 record. These XVs have appeared often in the past seven RWC finals, with two victories by the Wallabies, and three losses for France. (France and New Zealand lead with six final or semi final appearances.)
Scotland at Argentina (June 20)
Los Pumas hope to regain their 2007 world cup form when beating France for third place. They'll meet a Scotland team that looked weak in besting the USA and Canada. Argentina maintain a 10-6 record against the Thistles.
Italy at Japan (June 21)
When Italy was admitted in 2000 as the sixth nation into the Six Nations Cup, there were realistic appraisals that it would take time for the national team to do well on the international stage. Japan has improved to 12th, two slots higher than Italy at 14.
Samoa at Fiji (June 21 - Pacific Nations Cup)
The Samoans enjoy a 25-19-2 record against their main rivals, demonstrating superiority in fifteen's play.