Saturday offers another feast of international rugby, with Ireland’s clash against New Zealand in Dublin taking centre stage.


Scotland welcome South Africa to Murrayfield, while England and Wales will use their fixtures against Japan and Tonga respectively to experiment with some fringe players.

France host Argentina and Australia visit Italy in the day’s remaining two games.

With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at this weekend’s matches.

England v Japan

These two sides are meeting for only the second time, having last faced off at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 in a match England won 60-7.

Saturday’s hosts have never lost against a non-Tier One nation, winning all 39 matches, but the visitors won four of their five outings in England during the 2015 World Cup, including a memorable 34-32 victory over South Africa in Brighton.


Eddie Jones will be keen to see his much-changed side put on a show, with England on a run of four home matches without reaching 20 points (W2, L2) – their worst such run at Twickenham since a stretch of 10 games between 1981 and 1984.

George Ford starts at fly-half and will collect his 50th cap but has been on the losing side in six of his last seven games for his country.

Watch: Eddie Jones and George Ford on Japan Test

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France v Argentina


France were 27-0 victors the last time these sides met in 2016, marking the first time since 1952 that Argentina had failed to score a point in a match in their own country.

Les Bleus have won all four fixtures they have played in Lille, twice beating Argentina and recording victories over Australia and Romania in the city.

Two tries on Saturday would see France register their 150th against the Pumas, having already reached the milestone against six other sides.

Argentina have picked up just two wins in 2018 so far (L8). Only once before in the previous 12 calendar years that have they played 10 or more games have they notched up as few victories (2017, W2, L10).

Ireland v New Zealand

Ireland have won just one of their last 30 games against the All Blacks, although that victory did come in their second to last meeting in Chicago in 2016.

New Zealand are unbeaten in their last 15 visits to Dublin to face Ireland, who have won their last 10 matches on the bounce at the Aviva Stadium – their longest ever winning streak at home.

Watch: Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick on lineout battle with Ireland

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The All Blacks have not lost in Europe since a 38-21 defeat to England at Twickenham in December 2012.

Johnny Sexton (383) is just 14 points shy of surpassing Ronan O’Gara (396) as the most prolific point scorer at the Aviva Stadium or Lansdowne Road.

Watch: Joe Schmidt and Garry Ringrose on trying to down the All Blacks

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Italy v Australia

Australia have won each of their 17 meetings with Italy but the teams have faced each other just once since 2013, with the Wallabies winning 40-27 last year.

Italy, meanwhile, have beaten a Tier One nation at home just once since 2013 – a 20-18 victory over South Africa in 2016.

Despite losing 9-6 to Wales last weekend, the match represented the first time since November 2016 that the Wallabies have restricted a team to fewer than 10 points away from home.

They have not done so in consecutive away fixtures since September 2011.

Scotland v South Africa

Scotland have not beaten South Africa since November 2010, with Greig Laidlaw the only survivor from that match in the current squad, although he was an unused substitute on that occasion.

The hosts are in a rich vein of form at Murrayfield, having won 10 of their last 11 matches at the national stadium, with the All Blacks the only side to beat them during that period.

The Springboks have been involved in some tight affairs in 2018 – seven of their 12 matches have been decided by a margin of five points or fewer.

Only New Zealand (68) have scored more tries than Scotland (37) among Tier One nations this year.

Watch: Gregor Townsend ahead of the Test against South Africa.

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Wales v Tonga

Liam Williams returns to the Welsh starting XV to win his 50th cap, but the Saracens back has scored just one try in his last 10 Test matches (including British and Irish Lions appearances).

Wales have won all eight of their meetings with Tonga, whose only victory on Welsh soil came against USA in Colwyn Bay in November 2012.

Warren Gatland’s men are on a six-game winning run at home. Only once since 1978 have Wales enjoyed a longer such run – nine games between 1997 and 1999.

Wales’ Nicky Smith has made 44 out of 44 tackles in 2018, the most of any Tier One player yet to miss one this calendar year.

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