England hope Twickenham will be 50% full for July Tests with USA and Canada

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The Rugby Football Union is hopeful Twickenham will be 50% full for England’s summer Tests against the USA and Canada in July after confirming the decision to switch the proposed tour of North America to home soil.

Subject to government guidance, the RFU is optimistic of being allowed to admit 41,000 supporters for the matches against the USA – which will take place on 4 July – and Canada on 10 July. An England A fixture has also been arranged for the first time in five years with Scotland A due at Welford Road on Sunday 27 June. The RFU has decided to revert back to “A” – instead of Saxons – but it is understood any debutants will still be tied to England.

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The Saxons have been dormant since a 2016 trip to South Africa but Jones and the RFU’s director of performance rugby, Conor O’Shea, have been eager to reprise the second team. Exeter’s Ali Hepher took charge in South Africa while Jon Callard has coached the side previously, but it is understood Jones will assume control against Scotland A.

Confirmation of England’s summer fixtures comes as part of World Rugby’s revised schedule with Wales hosting Canada – for whom Rob Howley is now working – and two Tests against Argentina in July. Ireland will welcome Japan on 3 July and USA on 10 July, after which Andy Farrell could theoretically join the British & Irish Lions coaching staff. South Africa have arranged two matches against Georgia which will be vital to their preparations for facing the Lions given the Springboks have not played a Test since their 2019 World Cup final win.

With 11 players away with the Lions, the match against Scotland A and the Tests against the USA and Canada will give Jones the opportunity to blood a number of youngsters. Jones had hoped for more of his England squad to be selected by Warren Gatland but had said in advance that even if some of his senior players were overlooked he would seek to rest them to give youngsters a chance.

Four years ago Jones picked a number of callow players for the tour of Argentina and gave debuts to Tom Curry and Sam Underhill – the “Kamikaze Kids” who proved so influential in the run to the World Cup final two years later. “The summer series will give us the chance to look at a lot of players and see how they step up, and it’s an important part of our World Cup preparation,” said Jones. “For younger players, it’s a chance to show what they can do at international level and how they are in the team environment.”

In the southern hemisphere, the Springboks will face Georgia on the weekends of 2-3 and 9-10 July with the first Lions Test due to take place two weeks later. The South African union is still hopeful of crowds of up to 50% capacity with a complete itinerary expected this week. Elsewhere, Australia will host France and New Zealand will welcome Fiji with plans to play against Italy shelved.

Mike Brown will learn whether he has played his last match for Harlequins on Tuesday. The 35-year-old full-back, who joins Newcastle next season after 16 years at the London club, was sent off on Sunday for a stamp to the head of Wasps’s Tommy Taylor. The offence carries a minimum ban of six weeks but Brown will hope for mitigation given it was the first red card of his career.