The summer games have a multitude of storylines running through them

Summer tours are in full swing with the games starting on the 22 June.

England and South Africa came away victorious in the opening weekend, as well as invitational team the Barbarians.

Read more: Summer tours fixtures

There are several games taking place this summer with several different storylines happening. But here are five things to be excited about this summer.

Marcus Smith at 10

Marcus Smith has played 32 games for England but he is yet to put his stamp on the fly-half shirt. That has been because coaches have opted to play Owen Farrell or George Ford ahead of Smith with him coming off the bench for a fair few games.

But Farrell has taken a step away from international duty and Ford is injured, leaving the number 10 jersey up for grabs. Smith started against Japan on 22 June and played well. The rest of the tour, two matches against New Zealand, will be a real test for the Harlequins player. If he impresses he will be pushing for the starting spot.

Teams getting more exposure

At the 2023 Rugby World Cup everyone saw the talent that ran through teams like Uruguay, Portugal and Samoa. There were calls for them to get more games in the calendar and while they are not featured heavily this summer, they are getting game time.

They played in some of the most gripping matches of the World Cup, remember Portugal Fiji? The summer games are sure to follow suit with fixtures like Samoa v Italy and Uruguay v France.

Joe Schmidt’s first game

Australia have not played a game since they crashed out of the Rugby World Cup in October 2023. At the helm then was Eddie Jones, who stood down from the role just a few weeks later.

Australia Rugby appointed former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt to the role. His first game in charge will be against Wales on 6 July and it will be interesting to see if/how much the team have progressed under their new boss.

Italy’s performances

Italy had an impressive 2024 Six Nations, including a draw against France and a win over Wales. This summer will be a test to see if the team have consistency in their results and it will be another opportunity for them to display their exciting style of rugby.

Stars like Ange Capuozzo and Juan Ignacio Brex are lighting up the pitch. Fans should tune in to see how the team go, just for their shear speed.

Barrett new captain

Sam Cane, who announced he would be retiring from international rugby at the end of the year, has not been included in the All Blacks squad this summer. He has been suffering with injury since the start of the year and the skipper will not feature.

This has opened the door for a new New Zealand captain and Scott Barrett has been selected.

New All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson said: “I’ve known him a long time. He’s a quiet leader and a deep thinker. He’s a starting lock, he’s extremely experienced and the players will follow him. He’s got a very good feel for the game in terms of making the right calls at the right time. He’s won a lot of big games and he’s always risen to the occasion in the All Black jersey.”

Barrett will be guiding his team against England and Fiji.

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