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The Breakdown: A statistical look at Saturday's rugby internationals

It’s that time of year again, when the giants of Southern Hemisphere rugby head north to take on Europe’s finest.

England begin with a chance at revenge for their June series defeat at the hands of South Africa, while Wales and Scotland lock horns for the first time in a November Test.

New Zealand are in Japan to take on next year’s Rugby World Cup hosts, with Ireland heading to the United States to take on Italy.

With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at Saturday’s feast of international rugby.

England v South Africa

England have an alarmingly poor record against the Springboks, having lost 13 of the last 16 meetings between the teams (W2, D1).

Eddie Jones’ men won the last encounter but have not registered back-to-back victories in the fixture since winning seven in a row from 2000 to 2006.

With that in mind, England will look to capitalise on home advantage and have triumphed in 14 of their last 15 games at Twickenham, their only loss coming in their most recent match there against Ireland, and they have won each of their last nine end-of-year Tests.

South Africa, by contrast, have won only two of their last eight.

Owen Farrell is just 10 points away from reaching 700 for his country. Only Jonny Wilkinson (1,179) has reached this milestone for England.

Continue reading below…
Watch: Owen Farrell reacts to Tuilagi injury and looks ahead to Springboks Test

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Ireland v Italy

Six Nations champions Ireland will be full of confidence heading into their November Tests after claiming a series win in Australia, and they have beaten Italy in 23 of their last 24 meetings.

Joe Schmidt’s side will be hoping for a repeat of the performance they produced on their last visit to Chicago’s Soldier Field, when they beat New Zealand 40-29 to halt the All Blacks’ record-breaking winning run at 18 matches.

Ireland have won all six of their matches on American soil.

Italy claimed an historic win over South Africa in their November series two years ago but have since lost 17 of 19 Tests, beating only Fiji and Japan.

Jacob Stockdale has proven himself to be a matchwinner for Ireland, scoring 31 tries in 45 games for club and country since the beginning of 2017, including 11 in 11 for his country.

Japan v New Zealand

New Zealand and Japan have only met on three previous occasions, with the All Blacks emerging with the win in all three.

The Cherry Blossoms’ are stepping up preparations for a home Rugby World Cup in 2019 but have won just three of their last eight matches and have never won at Ajinomoto Stadium, where they have played four previous matches.

New Zealand’s total of 145 points scored against Japan in 1995 remains their highest ever total in a Test match, their biggest win over any team (145-17) and Japan’s largest ever Test defeat.

Japan have scored just 28 points per game when playing at home in 2018. Only once in the previous 13 calendar years did they average fewer points per game in Japan (18 points per game in 2011).

The All Blacks have scored 30 or more points in each of their last four away matches and have not done so in five straight matches since a seven-game streak between 1999 and 2000.

Wales v Scotland

Wales and Scotland are familiar foes in the Six Nations but this will be the first ever match between the countries to take place in November.

Their last match outside a Six Nations ended in a 23-9 victory for Wales in August 2003, with current Scotland coach Gregor Townsend starting at fly-half.

Scotland have won just one of their last 11 matches against Wales (L10), who last lost at home to the Scots in 2002 – their only loss in the fixture at the Principality Stadium since it opened in 1999.

Wales are chasing a sixth consecutive Test win for the first time since 2012 but come up against a Scotland side who have scored 28 tries in their eight games in 2018 – five more than any other Six Nations side and eight more than Wales.

Watch: Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie looks ahead to Wales game

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The Breakdown: A statistical look at Saturday's rugby internationals