2022 England vs Barbarians - Men's

England Rugby Preview: Barbarians, Australia Tour Await This Summer

England Rugby Preview: Barbarians, Australia Tour Await This Summer

England Rugby preps for for a full summer, including an upcoming match with Barbarians and three straight weekend matches against Australia.

Jun 9, 2022 by Briar Napier
England Rugby Preview: Barbarians, Australia Tour Await This Summer

What does England rugby have to say for itself right now?

After a two-year period in which it made the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and won the Triple Crown at the 2020 Six Nations Championship, the luster upon English rugby has dulled. 

Going home empty-handed in two Six Nations appearances since, and with another World Cup fast approaching, the pressure to perform is building on coach Eddie Jones. 

A busy summer of matches begins later this month for England rugby with a test in London against the Barbarians before a highly-anticipated tour of Australia, where the English will play the Wallabies on three successive weekends in July. Storylines abound ahead of the games, with plenty of English players aiming to make a mark in the side ahead of the bigger occasions.

Here’s what to watch out for as the world’s No. 5-ranked team preps for a summer season.

What’s The Response?

Though England had an improved showing over its disastrous fifth-place finish in the 2021 edition of the tournament, the seven-time Six Nations champions still only managed third and went trophyless in this spring’s edition of the event. Defeats to Scotland, Ireland and first-place France left a sour taste.

The final summer before a trifecta of massive competitions—the Autumn Nations Series, 2023 Six Nations and 2023 Rugby World Cup—now awaits, with England undoubtedly looking to build up some steam before a critical stretch in Jones’ tenure, whose deal is currently up at the end of next fall’s World Cup in France. 

Jones, who stormed out of the gates after his 2015 hiring with a Six Nations Grand Slam as part of an unbeaten 2016, has seen his side be a bit hot-and-cold since then following both highs (making the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final) and lows (fifth place Six Nations finishes in 2018 and 2021). 

England’s summer schedule has ramped up dramatically this year after going 2-0 against a pair of North American foes—Canada and the United States—at Twickenham last July‌, providing a good barometer to where the English stand ahead of the mighty matches to come over the next year-and-a-half.

Limited Squad

At the moment, it's playoff time across the club rugby world and that’s no different in Premiership Rugby, which holds its semifinal matchups this weekend. However, that also means that players from Saracens, Harlequins, Leicester and Northampton weren’t available for selection to Jones’ 35-man squad, leading to a total of 16 uncapped players being named from various Premiership sides. 

There won’t be any sight of recent Six Nations top scorer Marcus Smith (who’ll be with Harlequins) or captain Owen Farrell (who’ll be with Saracens) in training camp, with Gloucester wing Jonny May (69 caps) the most experienced player on the team. Nonetheless, to think the English teams rolling out this summer will be devoid of talent is a grave misunderstanding. 

Uncapped Newcastle Falcons hooker George McGuigan is amid a career renaissance at 29, having scored the second-most tries (15) in all of the Premiership this season, while the likes of Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Jack Nowell all have at least 25 caps and additionally made the flight to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

Some faces from the losing semifinalists could return for the Barbarians match, but Jones is likely aiming to see who could fit ahead of his team’s trip to Oceania.

History On England’s Side

England’s thought process of how to recuperate some of its magic 2016 form—in which it became just the second nation, other than New Zealand, to win all of its matches in a calendar year—might be to restore some familiarity from that time. 

The English will compete in a three-match tour of Australia this July for the first time in six years, taking on the Wallabies on three straight weekends in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, in that order. As the record from back then would indicate, Jones’ men went unbeaten in that 2016 tour, with the Wallabies swept in a series on Australian soil for the first time since South Africa did it in 1971. 

Australia coach Dave Rennie won’t confirm his squad until Sunday, but it’ll likely feature plenty of names familiar to Super Rugby fans and dollops of players applying their trade in other countries, such as Japan and France. 

But before England flies to the Land Down Under, it must first prepare for a home match at Twickenham against the Barbarians—an invitation-only club currently coached by French national team manager Fabien Galthié—and their diverse selection of rugby stars from around the world. 

The English will play the Barbarians after a three-year hiatus in which Jones’ side last won in a 51-43 shootout.