From the biggest rugby clashes to the do-or-die clashes of the Euro 2016, there are some huge encounters heading our way this weekend. Here’s the most important fixtures you need to see from Friday, 24 June, to Sunday, 26 June:
Toulon v Racing Metro (French Top 14 final)
While Toulon’s season could be filed under the subpar draw, they’ve somehow made it to a domestic final after all, it’s definitely had its ups and downs. They were knocked out of the European Rugby Champions Cup in the quarterfinals going down by three points to, in a touch of irony, Racing Metro. The two will face-off again in the French Top 14 final, in one of the most star-studded encounters the tournament has ever seen, with the likes of Dan Carter, Bryan Habana, Mathieu Bastareaud, Joe Rokocoko, Juan Imhoff, Matt Giteau, and Juan Smith all set to feature.
Prediction: Racing Metro by 6.
All Blacks v Wales (International rugby test)
While the All Blacks have sealed victory in their first test series of 2016, they didn’t do so very easily. Wales gave them quite the surprising challenge, with the first two Tests ending up as great rugby spectacles. The third should be no different, and expect Wales to throw everything they’ve got at the World Champions, while they themselves will be showcasing their trademark quality and flair.
Prediction: All Blacks by 15.
Australia v England (International rugby test)
England may have already won the series for the first-time in history, with a thrilling victory last weekend, but the Wallabies will want to redeem themselves and regain some pride, which should prove for an excellent match-up. The coaching battle between Eddie Jones and Michael Chieka will also reach a climax, and Jones will want to make it a 3 from 3 series win to really drive the dagger into Australia.
Prediction: England by 3.
South Africa v Ireland (Incoming rugby test series)
The Springboks managed a miraculous comeback last weekend, but it wasn’t the full convincing performance expected from South Africa. The series win lays in the balance, and both sides will feel they have a chance to clinch the decider. That said, Ireland are dealing with even more injuries, and an increasingly depleted Irish squad should fall short to a resurgent Springbok team.
Prediction: Springboks by 10.
Croatia v Portugal (Euro 2016)
Croatia and Portugal face off in the round of 16 of this year’s Euro championship. The Portuguese have disappointed to a certain extent in this tournament, failing to win a single one of their games but managing to advance on the strength of three draws in a fairly “easy” group. Their first game will be a challenging tilt with a Croatia side that won Group D thanks to a win over Spain on Tuesday. Ivan Perisic has been one of the best players in the tournament and Croatia is likely to have Luka Modric back for the knockout game.
Prediction: 1-0 to Croatia.
France v Republic of Ireland (Euro 2016)
Ireland have become somewhat of a crowd favourite at the Euro 2016 tournament thanks to the polite antics of their fans on on-field surprises. Following a great victory over Italy, the Irish will have to take on the hosts in their own backyard. France are huge favourites in this game considering the quality of players in their squad and their unbeaten record in the group stage. However, Ireland are no pushovers as they fought hard to get themselves to this stage of the tournament and they are not going to give up easily.
Prediction: 1-0 to France.
What match are you most excited for this weekend? Let us know in the comments below and tweet us at @MenStuffZA.