The British public can’t get enough of Test Rugby these days. So there could be a bit of trepidation as the regular club seasons in Europe are drawing to their conclusions and the Rugby World Cup doesn’t boot into life until 18 September – when hosts England meet feisty Fiji.
But don’t fret your head about how you’ll fill in the time between the club terms closing and the World Cup starting. There is a veritable feast of Test action in the in-between period, and you and your special ones can share in the rugby love together. In late May, July, August, and even the start of September there are Internationals on; think Lady and the Tramp, only you and your number one are awkwardly gorging on Test rugby rather than meatballs and spaghetti.
Here are the more interesting offerings on the menu.
England versus Barbarians
The remains of the Aviva Premiership season will still be warm by the time this game rolls around, with the league final being held the day before at the home of English rugby. So if you’re wanting two big games in one weekend, back-to-back, why not catch the Prem showcase and then this game of globetrotters versus heroes in white.
You will recognise the English players for sure, but the Baa-Baas are no strangers. Former Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans has brought in George Smith, Joe Rokocoko, Adam Jones, Alex Cuthbert, Soane Tonga’uiha and Berrick Barnes to play this one at Twickenham.
Even if you don’t watch too much rugby, you’ll have a sniff at remembering one or two of these fellas.
South Africa versus World XV
This isn’t quite a Baa-Baas affair. And it comes just before the Rugby Championship kicks off; that’s the ever brutal Rugby Championship where Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa duke it out like family on the Jeremy Kyle Show to try and win a major title just before the World Cup starts.
Just a week after this romp the Springboks will be playing the Wallabies, and they will still not have ironed out their perfect World Cup squad, so expect some experimentation or surprising combos in this friendly, regardless of who is lining up for the World XV.
Ireland versus Wales
Scotland versus Italy
On this day two familiar foes meet up. Yes there is something familiar about the style of play these teams will face, because they battle every season during the Six Nations but it won’t be a leisurely procession around some noiseless old houses of sport. Particularly as both of the hosts in these matches lost to their opponents, during the Six Nations this season. Revenge is a dish best served at your own table, it seems, so prepare for a bit of the familiar but with an added little kick of spice.
And if that wasn’t enough for you and you’re all about the invitational teams after being seduced by the first two fixtures above, the Baa-Baas are at it again on the very same day as Ireland and Scotland host their Six Nations mates, and this time they’re playing the mighty Samoans at London’s Olympic Stadium. That could be thunderous and just loose enough to thrill the neutrals.
USA versus Australia
Last November the USA Eagles took to that cathedral of American Football, taking the All Blacks to Soldier Field in the heart of Chicago. Now, many slathered that show with cynicism, insisting before, during and after the game that it was all an act of selling the New Zealanders’ brand. And USA got spanked, 74-6.
But it was fun, guys! The stadium was rammed, the American commentators did a bang-up job of explaining the game to the newbies watching, and we got to see some famous names.
Now the Aussies are heading there and if it’s more of the same, fantastic!