New Zealand will look to wrap up another Bledisloe Cup series triumph and make a strong start to the Tri Nations when they face fierce rivals Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

The All Blacks cruised to a 27-7 victory over the Wallabies at Eden Park to take a 1-0 lead after the first match ended in a 16-16 draw.

New Zealand have dominated the rivalry in recent times, and you have to go back to 2002 for the last time their trans-Tasman rivals lifted the famous trophy.

While Australia are unable to end that wait this weekend, they could draw first blood in the opening Tri Nations Test and set up a Bledisloe Cup decider next week in Brisbane.

South Africa's withdrawal from the Rugby Championship leaves just Australia, New Zealand and Argentina to battle it out in a rebranded Tri Nations.

With the Pumas having to wait until November 14 for their opening contest with the All Blacks, we use Opta facts to preview another almighty battle at ANZ Stadium.

Australia v New Zealand

- New Zealand have lost only one of their last seven Tests against Australia (W5, D1); however, that single defeat did come in their last meeting on Australian soil, going down 47-26 in Perth last August.

- The All Blacks have won seven of the most recent nine Tests between the two sides at ANZ Stadium, including their last three. They have averaged 44.67 points per game in that three-match run.

- Australia have won four of their last five Tests at home, losing one. They have been victorious in the last three and the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run on home soil was a four-match span from September 2013 to June 2014.

- New Zealand have scored 70 tries at ANZ Stadium, their second-most at any Test ground outside New Zealand. They need two more to surpass their tally of 71 at the SCG.

- Marika Koroibete has scored 13 tries since making his Test debut in September 2017, the most of any Australia player in that time; New Zealand's Rieko Ioane (18) and South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi (14) are the only southern hemisphere tier one players with more in that period.

- Beauden Barrett needs one more try for the outright record of most in Tests against Australia by any player. He is currently level on 11 with Richie McCaw and Ma'a Nonu and has blanked in his last two Tests against the Wallabies.

Thirteen Barbarians players have been charged by the Rugby Football Union for a breach of COVID-19 protocols which caused the cancellation of their match against England.

The Twickenham clash scheduled for last Sunday was aborted after RFU investigations established members of the Baa-Baas squad broke their coronavirus regulations.

It meant England's players were left without a warm-up match ahead of this Saturday's Six Nations showdown against Italy.

An RFU statement confirmed the players will face charges that include leaving the hotel without permission or without informing organisers of their whereabouts, and providing false statements during an investigation.

"The RFU recognises the pressure public scrutiny is placing on the players and therefore it will publish players' names, full judgements and sanctions after the hearings have concluded," said a statement from the RFU.

"There is no sanction table applicable to charges brought under Rule 5.12 therefore the Independent Panel can issue a range of sanctions at their discretion including fines and/or match bans and/or any other suitable sanction."

Players involved are set to attend virtual hearings over the next few weeks and face a range of sanctions, including playing suspensions and fines.

A number of the Barbarians players have since publicly apologised for the breach, with former England captain Chris Robshaw saying he was "sincerely remorseful" for his actions.

England coach Eddie Jones has lauded Ben Youngs and Jamie George as the duo prepare to make landmark appearances against Italy.

Leicester Tigers scrum-half Youngs will become just the second player, after Jason Leonard, to make it to 100 appearances for England when he takes to the field against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

England are chasing a bonus-point victory to keep them in contention for the Six Nations title, with leaders Ireland - one point better off - taking on third-place France in Saturday's later match.

Youngs is not the only player to be reaching an England milestone, with hooker George set to win his 50th cap.

The duo have been made to wait over seven months, with England having last played against Wales in March, prior to the coronavirus outbreak causing the suspension of the championship.

"I can only speak with great admiration of Ben," said Jones in a news conference.

"He had a difficult World Cup in 2015 and since then has worked extremely hard on his game. At his best he's close to the best half-back in the world.

"He's got a great running game, a good kicking game and he's an important, infectious character in our squad."

Jones added of George: "It's a great achievement for Jamie to be winning his 50th cap.

"He had a long apprenticeship but he's now fully established as our starting hooker."

Owen Farrell will captain the side, which features seven changes from the one which defeated Wales 33-30, and the Saracens fly-half echoed Jones' sentiments in regards to his team-mate Youngs.

"Everybody knows how good a player Ben is," Farrell said. "Not only or what he’s doing in recent times but for how long he's been doing it.

"He was in the England team when I was coming through, at a very young age, and he stepped up to the plate very quickly and has obviously been doing it ever since.

"He's brilliant to play with, he's a great driver of energy throughout the team which is brilliant for a scrum-half. He sees space very well and gets the team on the front foot."

Legendary Wales wing JJ Williams has died at the age of 72.

Williams was a star wing of the Wales sides of the 1970s, scoring 12 tries in 30 Tests between 1973 and 1979.

A sprinter who competed at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, he was then part of the Welsh sides that won four Five Nations titles, including two Grand Slams.

Williams also made seven Test appearances for the Lions in tours to South Africa in 1974 and New Zealand in 1977.

During the former, he scored two tries in as many Tests against the Springboks and a record-equalling six in a 97-0 rout of South West Districts.

The clinical flyer sits third on the all-time list of Lions try-scorers with 22 in 26 games.

Williams leaves wife Jane and children Kathryn, James and Rhys, the former European champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the 400metre hurdles.

Wales players will wear black armbands in Saturday's Six Nations match with Scotland in Llanelli, where Williams spent much of his club career.

Head coach Wayne Pivac said: "On behalf of the national squad, management and team, our thoughts and condolences go out to JJ's family and friends.

"It always is poignant when you have a player of that ilk passing away. We'll show our respects by wearing the black armbands."

Gael Fickou will move from centre to the wing in place of the injured Teddy Thomas for France's decisive Six Nations clash with Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

Racing 92 winger Thomas scored the last of France's five tries in last weekend's 38-21 victory over Wales but has been ruled out of the Ireland game at Stade de France with a hamstring injury.

Fickou shifts out wide in the absence of the clinical Thomas, with Arthur Vincent coming in at centre in the only change from the win over Wales.

Explaining his decision, France head coach Fabien Galthie said: "We know that Jonny Sexton uses his foot to put pressure on our wing. Fickou has this experience to deal with it.

"We had to manage the same thing against Wales. Arthur Retiere is also ready and is on the bench."

France are seeking their first tournament triumph in a decade as they gear up to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Les Bleus start their final game in Paris a point behind leaders Ireland and level with England, who face Italy in Rome.

"It's quite simple - we have as much chance of winning as England and Ireland," Galthie said. "But above all we try to be consistent. 

"We want consistency. We should not be weighed down with assumptions of what could happen."

Bernard le Roux again partners Paul Willemse at lock after his citing for an allegedly striking Alun Wyn Jones was dismissed by an independent panel.

The game has been given the all clear to go ahead despite French president Emmanuel Macron tightening the country's coronavirus restrictions this week.

Ireland announced their squad on Wednesday, with Robbie Henshaw replacing injured Leinster team-mate Garry Ringrose in their only change.

France: Anthony Bouthier, Vincent Rattez, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon (captain), Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Arthur Retiere, Thomas Ramos.

Ben Youngs will win his 100th cap for England in their long-delayed Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Leicester Tigers scrum-half will become just the second England player to tot up a century of appearances, after Jason Leonard, who won 114 caps from 1990 to 2004.

England's starting XV for the match at Rome's Stadio Olimpico shows seven changes to the side that beat Wales 33-30 in March, before the championship was suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most are forced on coach Eddie Jones by injury, with Elliot Daly, Manu Tuilagi, George Ford, Joe Marler, Courtney Lawes and Mark Wilson all sidelined, while George Kruis misses out as he heads to Japan to continue his career.

Hooker Jamie George wins a 50th cap, and he and Youngs will lead out the team, which will be captained by Owen Farrell.

Into the side comes full-back George Furbank, with Jonathan Joseph and Henry Slade lining up at centre as Farrell moves to fly-half, while Billy Vunipola and Mako Vunipola feature in the pack along with George and the uncapped Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Hill.

Jones, whose side will be chasing a bonus-point win that would keep them in title contention ahead of Ireland's clash with France later in the day, said: "We've trained with good intensity this week and the squad are excited by the challenge of performing at our best against Italy.

"The team have prepared well and are looking forward to putting on an England shirt and showing what they can do.

"We will also celebrate two major achievements in Ben Youngs' and Jamie George's cap milestones.  It's testimony to their skill, hard work and love of playing for England, and there is more to come from both of them."

 

England: George Furbank, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Thorley.

Alun Wyn Jones is set to become the most-capped player in Test rugby when Wales conclude their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on Saturday.

Wales captain Jones will break the record set by New Zealand great Richie McCaw when he makes his 149th appearance at Parc y Scarlets this weekend.

The 35-year-old lock made his international debut in 2006 and has featured in 139 Tests for Wales and nine with the British and Irish Lions.

Head coach Wayne Pivac said: "It's a fantastic day for Alun Wyn, isn't it. What can you say? We don't have enough time to talk about the guy. Just a tremendous leader in this group, leads by example.

"When he speaks, everyone listens. He's always matter of fact, to the point. Just a fantastic guy to have in our environment and I'm so pleased he's going to be able to do that.

"He's had to wait longer than we anticipated with the summer tour [called] off, but certainly to do it in a Six Nations match will be special for him."

Jones will be joined in the second row against Wales by Will Rowlands, who was handed a first Wales start by Pivac as one of six changes that also saw debutant Shane Lewis-Hughes and Tomas Francis named among the forwards.

George North makes way for Liam Williams on the wing and drops out of the 23-man squad, while Gareth Davies starts at scrum-half due to Rhys Webb's injury and Owen Watkin returns at centre.

 

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Cory Hill, James Davies, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Patchell, Nick Tompkins.

Sam Whitelock has been named to return for the All Blacks, while the Wallabies included two debutants in their starting side.

Whitelock has recovered from concussion to return for the Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations Series clash in Sydney on Saturday.

The lock's return is one of three changes to the starting XV for New Zealand.

While Whitelock replaces Tupou Vaa'i, Karl Tu'inukuafe is in for Joe Moody and Hoskins Sotutu takes Ardie Savea's place.

The All Blacks lead the four-game Bledisloe Cup series 1-0 as they seek to keep a trophy they have held since 2003.

"It's the third Test of a four-Test series and the Bledisloe Cup is on the line," All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said.

"It's a real chance for us to come into their home patch, a place which they take a lot of pride in playing and for a trophy which means a lot to them, and we need to show them how much it means to us. 

"The chance to go and win a trophy that's precious to us is exciting."

Australia have named two debutants – Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone – in their starting side, with James O'Connor out with a knee injury.

Allan Alaalatoa, Jordan Petaia and Dane Haylett-Petty will also start, while debutants Fraser McReight and Tate McDermott are among the replacements.

"It's really exciting to be able to name four more debutants in the squad this week," Australia coach Dave Rennie said.

"Noah and Irae have played a lot of footy together and we have no doubt they're ready to take the step up to Test rugby. Tate and Fraser have had big Super Rugby seasons and have impressed in training over the past month.

"It's an especially significant night for us with the chance to represent and celebrate our First Nations people by wearing the Indigenous jersey on home soil in front of our Wallabies family.

"We know New Zealand will pose another tough challenge but we've prepared well and will be ready to go on Saturday night."

Australia: Dane Haylett-Petty, Filipo Daugunu, Jordan Petaia, Irae Simone, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Nic White; James Slipper, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Allan Alaalatoa, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Matt Philip, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper, Harry Wilson.
Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott, Reece Hodge, Hunter Paisami.

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhue, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Karl Tu'inukuafe, Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane, Hoskins Sotutu.
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Scott Barrett, Dalton Papalii, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane.

Alex Mitchell has replaced injured scrum-half Willi Heinz for title-chasing England's final match of the Six Nations against Italy on Saturday. 

Heinz has been ruled out of the clash due to a leg soft tissue injury, so Eddie Jones has called up uncapped Northampton Saints pivot Mitchell to provide cover. 

Jones also has experienced scrum-halves Ben Youngs and Dan Robson in his squad for the showdown in Rome. 

England go into the match knowing a bonus-point victory could see them crowned champions, depending on the outcome of the huge final-day battle between France and leaders Ireland in Paris. 

The Red Rose have won all 26 matches against Italy in the tournament, scoring at least four tries - which they need for a bonus-point win - in their last six meetings with the Azzurri.

Defence coach John Mitchell wants to see England set the tone in the opening stages of what will be their first match since the tournament was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

He said: "Firstly, our goal is to win this Six Nations. We'll need to set the tone right at the start and we'll also need to be at our best. 

"If we keep that focus and maintain that intent and are very good, then we'll give ourselves a very good opportunity. 

"It's an opportunity for us to put smiles on faces during a really tough time in the country – that might sound generic because you might be hearing that from all sportsmen but that time has arrived for us, and that’s really important to us." 

Meanwhile, flanker Tom Curry says the competition for places in the squad is pushing him to take his game to another level. 

He said: "In life there is stuff that you can't effect whatsoever. Obviously as rugby players you want to be playing, but sometimes that’s not the case and especially at this time. 

"I think the brilliant things about this situation is how adaptable you can be and how you can still look to get better. I think from a personal point, I feel in a really good place."

Robbie Henshaw has replaced Garry Ringrose as Ireland's only change for Saturday's decisive Six Nations clash with France in Paris.

Leinster centre Ringrose broke his jaw early in last weekend's 50-17 hammering of Italy after being caught by Edoardo Padovani's knee and will miss the next six weeks.

Fellow Leinster player Henshaw came on for Ringrose at the Aviva Stadium and will now start the crucial clash with France at the Stade de France.

Ireland head into their final match of the elongated tournament knowing that a bonus-point victory will secure a fourth title in seven years.

As a result of Henshaw dropping out of the squad, Chris Farrell has been drafted into the Ireland replacements.

Prop Cian Healy is set to win his 100th cap and Johnny Sexton will once again captain Ireland, who are a point ahead of England – whose final game is against Italy in Rome – and opponents France.

 

Ireland: Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Hugo Keenan, Johnny Sexton (c), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Will Connors, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Peter O'Mahony, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Chris Farrell.

Uncapped duo Jacob Umaga and Jack Willis have been included in a 36-man England squad selected by Eddie Jones.  

Fly-half Umaga and flanker Willis are rewarded after impressing for Wasps this season, while there is also a place for club colleague Dan Robson.  

The trio all started Saturday's Premiership final but were unable to help Wasps triumph at Twickenham, Exeter Chiefs instead crowned domestic champions for the 2019-20 season.  

Joe Simmonds was influential for Exeter in the 19-13 victory, kicking a conversion and four penalties, but he has not been selected. There is no place for his brother, Sam, either.  

Jack Nowell is one of several notable names absent due to injury. Elliot Daly, George Ford and Joe Marler are also missing, along with long-term absentees Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi. 

However, Jones made clear he still had to make some difficult calls when putting together the final list for Saturday’s rescheduled Six Nations clash with Italy, as well as the upcoming autumn internationals.  

There are nine players yet to feature at international level on the final list. 

"It was a tough squad to pick and I know there are a number of disappointed players that have just missed out," Jones said. "We've got a good balance between experience and inexperience.  

"With nine players out injured, it does create some opportunities for the younger guys to show what they can do." 

England still have a chance of winning the Six Nations as they complete their fixtures against Italy, the tournament having been halted earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

They were due to face the Barbarians in a warm-up fixture beforehand, but that was cancelled due to breaches of the COVID-19 code of conduct. 

After the game with Italy, England face Georgia, Ireland and Wales as part of the Autumn Nations Cup, while there will also be a play-off Test against a nation from Group B to follow. 
 

England squad 

Backs: Joe Cokanasiga, Owen Farrell, George Furbank, Willi Heinz, Jonathan Joseph, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Jonny May, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Ollie Thorley, Jacob Umaga, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.

Forwards: Tom Curry, Tom Dunn, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Jonny Hill, Ted Hill, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Lewis Ludlam, Beno Obano, David Ribbans, Jack Singleton, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams, Jack Willis.

John Cooney has been called up to the Ireland squad for the decisive Six Nations clash with France on Saturday as cover for Jamison Gibson-Park.

Gibson-Park reported he is suffering from hamstring tightness after the 50-17 demolition of Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Cooney was left out for that match in Dublin after being on the bench for the defeat to England in February before the tournament was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ulster scrum-half has been drafted in by Andy Farrell ahead of a showdown with Les Bleus in Paris which Ireland start knowing a bonus-point win would secure the title.

Wing Keith Earls is finishing his rehabilitation programme from a back injury and a decision over whether he can face France will be made in the coming days.

Centre Garry Ringrose is out for up to six weeks after suffering a broken jaw in the hammering of the Azzurri.

England trail Ireland by a point but are favourites to be crowned champions as they face Italy in Rome.

Ireland will be without Garry Ringrose for their decisive Six Nations showdown with France after the centre was ruled out for up to six weeks with a broken jaw. 

Ringrose was caught in the face by Edoardo Padovani's knee early in the 50-17 hammering of Italy when the Six Nations resumed at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. 

The Leinster player, who was replaced by Robbie Henshaw, will miss the trip to Paris for a final match of the tournament that Ireland will start needing another bonus-point win to secure the title. 

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said: "Garry Ringrose has broken his jaw, so bad news for us all. 

"He's been so good for us the last 10 days, he has been absolutely fantastic with his leadership and he was a big part of the reason why we got what we wanted [versus Italy]. 

"He was unfortunate with his thumb injury earlier in the Six Nations and has come back and had a setback like that which will keep him out for four to six weeks, so we're gutted for Garry."

Ringrose also looks set to sit out the Autumn Nations Cup encounters with Wales, England and Georgia in November. 

Ireland are a point ahead of France and England - who play Italy in Rome - ahead of the final round of Six Nations matches.

Alun Wyn Jones made a record-equalling 148th Test appearance as Wales suffered a 38-21 loss to France in Paris on Saturday.

By representing his country at the Stade de France, Wales captain Jones drew level with New Zealand great Richie McCaw as the most-capped international rugby union players in history.

He was unable to prevent his team from slipping to defeat against France, who will hope to take momentum from their first game since February into the Six Nations finale against leaders Ireland next weekend.

Dan Biggar sent Leigh Halfpenny over for the opening try and added a penalty to put Wales 10-0 up inside 10 minutes, but Cyril Baille and Antoine Dupont crossed to put Les Bleus ahead after the half-hour mark.

Dupont doubled his tally before half-time and, after Biggar and Romain Ntamack traded penalties, he set up Charles Ollivon to score after Josh Adams failed to control a high ball.

Nicky Smith dotted down as Wales made a quick response, but Teddy Thomas chipped over Biggar to seal the win with a stunning solo try.

Exeter Chiefs completed a domestic and European double as they overcame Wasps 19-13 in the Premiership final. 

The Chiefs saw off Racing 92 to win the European Champions Cup for the first time last week and capped their domestic dominance at Twickenham on Saturday. 

Henry Slade scored their only try, with Joe Simmonds starring with the boot to settle a cagey final. 

There had been doubt over whether Wasps – who overcame Bristol Bears in the semi-finals – would even be able to play when 11 COVID-19 cases were confirmed among their players and staff this week, though subsequent tests came up negative. 

Jimmy Gopperth's early penalty put them ahead before Slade went over to nose Exeter in front in west London. 

Jacob Umaga's try restored Wasps' lead, but Simmonds converted two penalties to ensure Exeter took a three-point lead into the interval. 

Though a second Gopperth penalty pegged Exeter back, it was Simmonds who had the final say, with two more three-pointers ultimately securing the Chiefs' second Premiership title despite Wasps' late push. 

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