Huge ask for any Home Nation to win Summer Tour openers in Southern Hemisphere


Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | June 10, 2016

Reality check for Red Rose Down Under?

England, Ireland and Wales are in international action at Euro 2016, but away from football they also take to the rugby fields of the Southern Hemisphere for the first of three Summer Tour matches apiece.

While the Red Rose won the Six Nations Grand Slam this spring, they now renew hostilities with great sporting rivals Australia, and they now have home advantage after eliminating the English at Twickenham from their own hosted Rugby World Cup this past autumn.

Even the Tasmanian Devil, Eddie Jones himself, has his work cut out for him in this homecoming of sorts. England, 6/4 with Coral for victory in their series Down Under, have won just three Tour matches ever away to the Wallabies (odds-on 1/2 favourites to take the series).

Welsh woe looms large

New Zealand’s awesome All Blacks are reckoned to be the best sports team on the planet right now, given their dominance of international rugby union for several years.

Despite the loss of captain Richie McCaw and kicker Darren Carter, Kiwi coach Steve Hansen can be confident going into a three Test series with Wales, against whom they have never lost on home soil and were last defeated by the Dragons way back in 1953.

That is why New Zealand are overwhelmingly odds-on 1/20 favourites for the series, and the Welsh made considerable 9/1 outsiders.

The Irish (6/1 outsiders) too have failed to win in seven matches across four previous Tours of South Africa, leaving the Springboks ready to pounce at 1/12 for a series victory.

Such dismal history aside, what other punts appeal? Coral rugby tipsters take you through the Home Nations trio game by game…

New Zealand v Wales

  • Summer Tour matchday 1
  • Eden Park, Auckland
  • Kick-off: 08:35 BST
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

All Backs out in force in Auckland

Any suggestions that the post Carter and McCaw era would see New Zealand weaken are wide of the mark. Their starting XV for the first Wales fixture contains nine that began the Rugby World Cup final.

Three of the four All Blacks’ tryscorers for their last Dragons duel in 2014 get the nod, with powerhouse winger Julian Savea (a 6/1 shot to cross for the opener again), new captain Keiran Read (15/8 anytime) and fellow back row forward Jerome Kaino (3/1 in the same market) all included.

Versatile back Beauden Barrett, who bagged a brace off the bench back then, is also available among the Kiwi replacements and is one to definitely watch during in-play betting. New Zealand, 1/20 to win here, find the handicap market set at 20 points, and are better at 10/11 to cover that.

Warburton among returning Welsh names

Warren Gatland, meanwhile, reacts to that substantial second-half collapses in the warm-up Test to England by making five changes, which include the return to fitness of Dragons skipper Sam Warburton following a shoulder problem.

Jonathon Davies is back at centre, while the other alterations are among the forward. Warburton is back on the openside with fellow flanker Dan Lydiate ruled out of the Tour; front row duo Gethin Jenkins and Ken Owens, plus lock Bradley Davies come in too.

Wales wing and Six Nations top tryscorer George North was notably quiet at Twickenham last time out, and his country needs more from him. He’s 11/4 to cross the whitewash anytime, while scrum half Rhys Webb went over when last in New Zealand and is 7/2 to do so again.

A sizeable points difference based on history

The Welsh will be under no illusions as to how big the task in front of them is, and that’s why they are 8/1 outsiders to upset the All Blacks in Auckland.

First-choice full back Leigh Halfpenny’s continuing absence and the undoubted gamble on Warburton’s fitness are problematic for Gatland.

As three out of the last four meetings with New Zealand have seen them record a margin of victory in the 11-20 points bracket, that looks a sound investment at an awesome 11/4 to be the difference again.

Australia v England

  • Summer Tour matchday 1
  • Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Kick-off: 11:00 BST
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Trio make Wallabies bows

While Michael Cheika names 10 of the Aussie XV that knocked England out of their own Rugby World Cup, including man of the match from that night Bernard Foley, and nine that began the final defeat to New Zealand, there is room for three debutants.

Samu Kerevi is the new partner for fellow musclebound centre Tevita Kuridrani, while Dane Haylett-Petty (6/5 to cap his bow by crossing here) is selected on the wing with Drew Mitchell no longer representing the Wallabies. The other new face is Rory Arnold at lock.

Foley is one those in Red Rose ranks that saw him take them apart from fly half last autumn will fear, however, and he is splendid value at 7/2 for a try anytime.

Farrell takes 10 off flop Ford

Anyone who saw England’s warm-up victory over Wales before jetting out Down Under will know that reserve kicker George Ford had a wretched time, only putting one of seven attempts with his boot over the posts.

Jones has dropped Ford to the bench, so no dual playmaker system like the Red Rose used in the Six Nations. It’s all on Owen Farrell now, who takes over at fly half, allowing Luther Burrell to remain at centre alongside Jonathan Joseph.

Marland Yarde retains his spot on the wing ahead of Jack Nowell, but it is to Anthony Watson that most punters will look for a try. At 11/5 anytime, Watson is better if you’re prepare to make the patriotic wager of a 3/1 match special wincast where he crosses in an England victory.

Grand Slam momentum for tourists could be checked

Just seven of the starting XV that exited the Rugby World Cup remain for the Red Rose, and the breakdown battle among respective back rows in Brisbane could be the making of impressive physical specimen Billy Vunipola (4/1 to score a try) against David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

With England rated 5/4 to upset Australia (8/13 to win the opener), the visitors must start this three-Test series well if they are to follow up on their Six Nations exploits, but the handicap market sets the Wallabies just a three-point deficit to overturn.

Based on previous Red Rose trips to OZ, however, the alternative handicaps are more appealing, with the Wallabies covering nine points sweet at 7/4. As England are yet to put two convincing halves of rugby together under Jones, a reality check following their Six Nations triumph could be on the cards here.

South Africa v Ireland

  • Summer Tour matchday 1
  • Newlands, Cape Town
  • Kick-off: 16:00 BST
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Irish injuries show no sign of abating

While the Springboks begin life without iconic winger Bryan Habana, they still have nine of the XV that started the Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand, but Ireland continue to contend with injuries.

Although Iain Henderson returns at lock, Tommy Bowe, Rob Kearney, Jonny Sexton and Simon Zebo are all sidelined from Joe Schmidt’s options among at the backs. It’s no wonder, then, that the tourists are 11/2 outsiders to win in Cape Town.

Luke Marshall is recalled at centre after two years out of the Irish national set-up and Jared Payne switched to his club position of full back, from where he is a 6/1 shot to score a try anytime.

Lambie can cover Pollard absence

If you’re not familiar with rugby union, then you could be forgiven for thinking Pat Lambie represented Ireland, but he is in at fly half for fellow South African kicker Handre Pollard, who is the most high-profile injury absentee for the hosts.

While Springboks tryscoring hero Habana is gone, fellow winger JP Pietersen crossed the last time they played Ireland and is 5/4 to go over again anytime.

South Africa look as solid and unforgiving as ever among their forward pack. Watch out for impressive lock duo Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, and their battle with opposite number and recently returned Henderson, plus Devin Toner, should be a humdinger.

Handicap seems a little large

Coral’s handicap market is set at 15 points for this Cape Town clash, and although Ireland are yet to win away to the Springboks, that margin of three tries or more than two converted ones, does seem somewhat large.

It has been 12 years since the Irish went on Tour to South Africa, and it would be bold to set much store by the results of then – neither of which are as heavy as the handicap suggests.

This may be one to avoid, then, but backing for the difference to be just below that may appeal more with the Springboks in the 11-15 points bracket available at 5/1.


Our rugby union archive is packed full of international action and analysis.

Coral’s top tip: Bernard Foley puts on his best from fly half when playing against England with three tries in as many Tests, so take superb 7/2 odds for him to cross again anytime.

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