The Wales squad will face temperatures ranging from 42 degrees to minus 150 degrees, will sleep in normobaric hypoxic chambers and will train in surroundings ranging from the deserts of Qatar to the peaks of the Swiss Alps as part of their gruelling preparation for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Wales’ full schedule for 2015 will see Warren Gatland’s squad undergo intensive training camps in Switzerland, Qatar and Poland as well as face home and away ties against Ireland before concluding their preparations against Italy at the Millennium Stadium.
The rigorous schedule has left no stone unturned in order to ensure Wales arrive at the world’s showpiece tournament in peak condition with leading facilities at home in Wales and across the world utilized.
The programme is the culmination of months of research and planning and WRU head of physical performance, Adam Beard, who also designed the 2011 schedule, is delighted to formally announce the squad’s plans.
Former Wales and Llanelli flyhalf Phil Bennett has questioned Scarlets’ move for Welsh-qualified flanker Jack Payne from Queensland Reds in Australia.
Payne, 20, has arrived in Wales, but any move cannot be made official until passport issues have been resolved.
Scarlets president Bennett would prefer to see local players at Scarlets, but admitted importing Welsh-qualified players from abroad could help Wales.
“There’s a lot of mixed feeling from Llanelli,” he said. “We’re kind of old fashioned here. People still go back to the great Llanelli days . . . they all want to be Welsh, Welsh-speaking if they had their way,” joked 66-year-old Bennett.
“But let’s be honest, look at the Australians, the All Blacks and how they’ve milked the situation of getting players from Fiji, Samoa and different places. You’ve got to get and live with the very best in the world.”
The South African Rugby Union received handy compensation from the Welsh Rugby Union for agreeing to play last weekend’s Test in Cardiff.
The Test at Millennium Stadium fell outside World Rugby’s international window, but was played after both rugby union’s agreed to square off.
According to reports, SARU received £750 000 (about R 13 Million) from the WRU for the Test.
Once again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.
Ireland beat both South Africa and Australia, Wales downed the former and England the latter, and Scotland defeated Argentina.
Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union’s traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.
Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides.
South Africa suffered a big blow when Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was injured during their 12-6 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.
De Villiers was forced to leave the field in the 58th minute after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap. The dislocation was reduced on the field and he was sent for scans shortly after the match.
“The scans revealed significant ligament damage to the inside of his knee and the supporting muscles,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.
“Jean will return to South Africa and see an orthopaedic specialist in Cape Town early in the week. He has had previous surgery on this knee and the further management of the injury is dependent upon the specialist’s recommendations.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said losing De Villiers was a massive setback as the team were just beginning to build momentum in a tough encounter against Wales. The home team’s points came via four Leigh Halfpenny penalty goals, while Pat Lambie responded with two penalty goals for the visitors.
“It was a massively disappointing way to end the tour and our season, as we always strive to make our country proud,” said Meyer.
Reigning champions New Zealand remained the team to beat less than a year out from the World Cup in England after yet another successful November campaign in Europe.
There’s nothing new in the All Blacks being the yardstick for the global game and their rivals will take some comfort in knowing New Zealand have yet to win the World Cup on foreign soil.
So the fact they were pushed close by both England (24-21) and Wales (34-16) this month before emerging victorious won’t have done the All Blacks any harm, nor will the success of a virtual second-choice side in preserving their unbeaten record against Scotland.
However, all these matches demonstrated how no team goes for the full 80 minutes quite like New Zealand, who have enviable depth.
England found themselves needing two scores in the closing stages against the All Blacks and managed one while Wales conceded 24 points in the final 17 minutes.
South Africa need no extra motivation to raise themselves for Saturday’s season-ending Test match against Wales after being pushed hard by the Welsh in their last match earlier this year.
The South Africans led 17-0 and 30-17 early in the clash in Nelspruit in June before the Welsh staged a dramatic comeback, only to fall short by a solitary point, as the Springboks hung on for a 31-30 victory.
That win stretched the Springboks’ formidable record over Wales to just one loss (1999) and one draw (1970) in 29 matches between the two countries.
“It’s pretty easy to motivate yourself. It’s the last one, you can put all your effort into it, not that you don’t in any other week of the year.
Wales centre Jamie Roberts insisted he was ready for more of the same against South Africa on Saturday, despite being unable to run for four days after his exploits against the New Zealand last week.
Roberts, a qualified doctor currently taking a medical sabbatical playing for Racing-Metro in the French Top 14 league, admitted that he did not dwell too long on the pain and suffering he caused his own body.
“It’s taken me about four or five days to recover from last weekend,” Roberts said of the battering he took in the 34-16 loss to New Zealand.
“It was car-crash stuff last weekend.
“I take anti-inflammatory medication before most games now just to reduce swelling in knees and ankles and so forth.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has denied he was under extra pressure as his team sought an elusive win over a Southern Hemisphere side when they clash with South Africa on Saturday.
Gatland’s record against the SANZAR sides of Australia, New Zealand and the Springboks since taking charge in 2007 does not make for pleasant reading: played 27, won one, lost 26.
That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland on Thursday played down reports in the media that he was under extra pressure, 10 months away from the World Cup in England.
After opening their November campaign with a 28-33 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales side scraped past Fiji 17-13 before rebounding against New Zealand, leading after 69 minutes before leaking three late tries to go down 16-34.
Wales have made three changes to their side to face South Africa on Saturday, with Gethin Jenkins, Scott Baldwin and Liam Williams all coming into the starting fifteen.
Jenkins and Baldwin will link up with Samson Lee to form the same frontrow that started the clash against Fiji a fortnight ago.
The rest of the pack remains unchanged from last weekend’s game against the world champions New Zealand, with Jake Ball partnering Alun Wyn Jones in the second row and Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau lining up alongside captain Sam Warburton.
Ospreys halfbacks Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue their partnership as do the record breaking centre duo of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies.
Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Lwazi Mvovo are back in the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday’s Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The changes in the back three were required because Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, who started in last weekend’s victory over Italy in Padova, are not available this week. The two changes to the front row are rotational.
Adriaan Strauss, who started at hooker in the victories over England and Italy, moves to the bench, where he will be joined by Trevor Nyakane and Damian de Allende in the only other changes to the match-23.
“This tour has been a good test of our depth and we’re looking forward to see what the team can do on Saturday,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Ireland’s John Lacey will referee Saturday’s Test between Wales and the Springboks at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Lacey, 41, was also in charge of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in August this year. The Boks won 13-6.
Saturday’s Test will be his 11th to date.
Welsh defensive coach Shaun Edwards has bad memories of what Willie le Roux did to them in June and is wary of the Springboks’ threats.
South Africa managed two victories over the Welsh back in June, with a tight one-point win in Nelspruit proving to be a heartbreaking one for Wales.
Springbok fullback Willie le Roux was instrumental as an attacking threat in both those games and was seen to terrorize the Welsh defence.
For Edwards, a watchful eye will be kept on Le Roux, but he is not fooling himself into believing that the wylie fullback will be the only threat.
“They have got intelligent players, they’ve got a constructive kicking game as well,” the coach said.
They’ve got an outstanding fullback in Willie le Roux, who was the main torturer for us throughout the June Tests.
Cardiff Blues’ new signing Gareth Anscombe is keen to impress Wales coach Warren Gatland and force his way into the Welsh Six Nations squad.
The Welsh qualified junior All Black made his debut for the Blues last weekend and was the shining light in their 28-13 defeat to Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
The utlity back is determined to muscle his way into the Wales fold for the Six Nations by steering his new side to victories against European Cup Pool One qualification rivals London Irish in their back-to-back clashes next month.
“I’m a pretty driven guy and now that I’m over here it’s the goal to play for Wales. So, I guess the next step may be the Six Nations.
Wales will be able to call on their French-based stars for Saturday’s Test against the Springboks at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The match falls outside of World Rugby’s Test window, which means clubs are not obliged to release their overseas-based players for internationals.
For this reason, the Springboks will not be able to call on the likes of Bryan Habana (Toulon, France) JP Pietersen (Panasonic Wild Knights, Japan), Schalk Burger (Suntory Sungoliath, Japan), Johan Goosen (Racing Metro, France), Jano Vermaak (Toulouse, France), Gurthro Steenkamp (Toulouse, France) and Morne Steyn (Stade Francais, France).
However, it appears Wales will be able to call on some key overseas players.
The starting side who did duty for the Springboks on Saturday as well as one replacement, have all left the Springboks to return to their respective Clubs in France and Japan.
- Johan Goosen returns to Racing Metro in France
- Bryan Habana returns to Toulon
- JP Pietersen returns to the Panasonic Wild Knights
- On the Springbok bench, Gurthrö Steenkamp returns to Toulouse in France
Of course Bakkies Botha has now retired from International Rugby and accordingly also leaves for Toulon, whilst Morné Steyn (who was not used on Tour) returns to Stade Français.
Schalk Burger joins his Japanes Club, Suntory Sungoliath.
This leads us to the burning question as to the composition and changes in the Springbok run-on team and 23-man squad for Saturday’s encounter with Wales, who held a lead over the All Blacks till the 69th minute, this past Saturday, before conceding a blitz of 3 tries, which blew the score against them out of proportion.
Mind you, one more Springbok tourist is also leaving the squad, thus unavailable for selection, namely Seabelo Senatla, who was released to the Springbok Sevens squad (or Blitzbokke as they are affectionately referred to) for the 2 remaining HSBC Sevens World Series Tournaments in 2014… the tournament in Dubai and the one in South Africa the week thereafter.
Wales coach Warren Gatland’s record against the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa now stands at played 27, won one and lost 26 after a 16-34 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.
That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland insisted that his team did not lack self-belief against the SANZAR nations, praising New Zealand’s kicking game in a brutally entertaining match in Cardiff.
“It’s not a matter of belief. It’s sometimes just getting across the line and doing it, and the first time you do that, it’s easier the next time,” said Gatland.
“That’s a big thing for us, we get over that line and that’s what will create that belief and that composure to finish a game off.”
Gatland, himself a Kiwi who took charge of Wales after the 2007 World Cup, added of the “nearly-men” tag.
“It’s disappointing. You’ve got to keep working hard to try to rectify that in terms of critical moments when we’ve come under a bit of pressure.
Only one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!
Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.
The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.
The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:
Four International Tests overlapped or at least partly overlapped one another between 18:30 to almost midnight on Saturday 22 November 2014, SA Time.
Seeing as all 4 matches were broadcast LIVE on TV in South Africa… although on 2 different SuperSport channels, we hosted all FOUR in one GLOBAL ARTICLE!
Ireland (20) 26 / 23 (20) Wallabies (Final Score)
Ireland and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at
Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 BST & GMT, 03:30 Sunday AEST).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
Wales (3) 16 / 34 (3) All Blacks (Final Score)
Wales and the New Zealand All Blacks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 19:30 SA Time (17:30 BST & GMT, 06:30 Sunday NZ Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.
England (13) 28 / 9 (6) Samoa (Final Score)
England and Samoa did battle in the End Of Year Tours at
Twickenham, London, England at 21:00 SA Time (19:00 BST & GMT, 09:00 Sunday Samoa Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
France (3) 13 / 18 (15) Los Pumas (Final Score)
France and the Argentinian Pumas did battle in the End Of Year Tours at
Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT, 17:00 Arg Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.
New Zealand take on Wales at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday with no Dan Carter on the teamsheet, young gun Beauden Barrett entrusted to drive the All Blacks around the park.
Barrett has spent most of the last two weeks simulating English and Scottish attackers as he missed out on selection for the 24-16 victory over the latter behind Carter and Colin Slade, while he came on for Aaron Cruden for the last quarter in the 24-21 win at Twickenham.
But coach Steve Hansen has had no qualms about throwing the 23-year-old Hurricanes playmaker a chance for a rare start in a match-up in which Wales’ last victory came way back in 1953.
“We’ve got total belief in him though, otherwise we wouldn’t have put him in there,” Hansen said, adding that a fly-half’s role was simple.
Richie McCaw will become the first player to captain the All Blacks in 100 Tests when he leads New Zealand against Wales on Saturday in his 137th Test.
The 33-year-old flank was named to captain the All Blacks for the match in Cardiff, which could provide some insight into head coach Steve Hansen’s view of his strongest lineup, a year from the next World Cup.
It will be a fitting occasion, as McCaw captained the All Blacks for the first time against the Welsh exactly 10 years ago today, on 20 November 2004, in his 25th Test. McCaw has won 89 of his 99 previous Tests as captain.
Beauden Barrett has replaced Aaron Cruden at starting flyhalf, beating out two other top-class players competing for the No 10 jersey – Dan Carter, the world’s top Test point-scorer, and the versatile Colin Slade, who was named to the bench.
The All Blacks will boast an experienced starting forward pack, with hooker Dane Coles and props Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks making up the front row while Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock return to the second row, with Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read joining McCaw in the back row.
Wales are hopefully heading for a rugby crescendo when they host “red-letter” world champions New Zealand on Saturday, according to the Welsh team’s defence coach Shaun Edwards.
“It is always a red-letter day when the All Blacks come to town,” said the Wigan and Great Britain rugby league legend.
“And also the fact they are the current world champions makes it a little more special. Whenever a team are world champions, for that period it is a special fixture when they come to your home ground.
“With it being the All Blacks, it is that bit extra special as well.”
After two punishing fitness-focused weeks in camp ahead of the 33-28 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales scraped past Fiji 17-13, but Edwards said normality had returned.
“We’ve gone back to our standard week. We are pretty happy with our fitness levels,” he said.
Wales have named an experienced side to face New Zealand on Saturday with centre Jonathan Davies the only personnel change to the team that lost against Australia.
Davies comes into the midfield to partner Jamie Roberts whilst Warren Gatland also calls upon the returning Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny in the backline.
Halfpenny comes back into the side after missing the Fiji match and links up with try-scorers from that game, George North and Alex Cuthbert in the back-three. Ospreys half-back pair Webb and Biggar are named at No 9 and No 10 respectively.
The pack features the same eight that started against the Wallabies.
Wales’ narrow 17-13 victory over 2015 World Cup pool opponents Fiji on Saturday was “disappointing and frustrating”, according to coach Warren Gatland.
Despite the South Sea Islanders being reduced to 14 men after prop Campese Ma’afu received a second yellow card in the 52nd minute, the toothless Welsh team remarkably failed to register a score in the second half after leading 17-6 at the break.
Ahead of clashes against world champions New Zealand and South Africa, Gatland said his team’s performance was “disappointing and frustrating”.
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo will take his place at inside centre for Fiji when they face off against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Ospreys’ contingent in Warren Gatland’s Wales selection will come up against a familiar foe in the form of Josh Matavesi, who has been named at flyhalf for the opposition.
It will be Matavesi’s seventh international cap but his first for almost exactly two years, his last international appearance coming at Twickenham in November 2012 when he came off the bench against England.
The 24-year old missed Fiji’s defeat to France last Saturday due to a shoulder injury.
Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins will captain a rejigged Wales team for their clash with Fiji at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, head coach Warren Gatland announced on Tuesday.
Gatland has elected to make eight changes to the team beaten 33-28 by Australia last weekend, although there is no place in the starting XV for recalled Gloucester fly-half James Hook.
Jenkins takes over from Paul James in the front row, while Scott Baldwin of Ospreys will make his first Wales start at hooker.
Flanker Sam Warburton, the regular captain, is being rested, but there are recalls in the backs for fit-again centre Scott Williams, fly-half Rhys Priestland and scrum-half Mike Phillips.
Gloucester flyhalf James Hook was called into Wales’s squad for their remaining November internationals on Sunday after fellow No 10 Dan Biggar suffered a groin strain in the 33-28 defeat by Australia.
The 29-year-old Hook has won 76 caps but has rarely enjoyed the full confidence of Wales coach Warren Gatland, with the New Zealander seemingly mistrustful of the playmaker’s talent.
Meanwhile Hook’s versatility – he has also played Test rugby at fullback and centre – has proved as much a hindrance as a help in establishing himself as a first-choice plyer while Gatland has been in charge of Wales.
However, Biggar’s injury means Hook could be called upon for the Millennium Stadium clash with Fiji on Saturday.
“Hook will link up with the squad tomorrow (Monday) when they gather to prepare for Saturday’s clash against Fiji,” said a Welsh Rugby Union statement issued Sunday.
“No players have been released from the squad.”
Wales captain Sam Warburton insists that it is just a question of when, and not if, they beat a leading southern hemisphere side.
Wales outscored the Wallabies by four tries to three, but faultless flyhalf Bernard Foley kicked 18 points to guide Australia to a 10th consecutive victory over the Welsh.
Since taking charge of Wales in 2007, coach Warren Gatland has won only one of 26 matches against the three southern hemisphere giants, a 21-18 victory over Australia in 2008.
But he and Warburton were keen to focus on the positives following a ninth successive defeat by the Wallabies in single figures.
“It’s the best game we’ve started in November internationals or Six Nations in a quite a long while,” Warburton said after Rhys Webb opened the scoring in just the second minute of a first-half that saw each team notch up three converted tries.
Nine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.
Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.
In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.
On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.
It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.
Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.
The results of the weekend are as follows:
Wales great Shane Williams has announced he will retire from all forms of rugby at the end of this season.
Williams, 37, played the last of his 87 Tests for Wales against Australia in 2011, scoring his 58th international try with his last touch of the game – a Welsh record.
The former World Player of the Year is also a four-time capped British and Irish Lion, and even made a fleeting appearance on the victorious 2013 tour of Australia for a midweek game against the Brumbies.
After his retirement from international rugby in November 2012, the diminutive winger, standing just 1.70m (5ft 7in) high and weighing 80kg (12st 8lb), signed a contract with Japanese club Mitsubishi Dynaboars.
Canada Head Coach Kieran Crowley has released his 23-man roster to face fellow Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier Namibia on Friday at Parc Eirias in the second game of the year-end tour.
Captaining the side for the second consecutive game will be loose-head prop Hubert Buydens, who will be joined by Ray Barkwill and Jason Marshall in the front row. Marshall, along with winger Sean Duke, returns to the Canadian team having recently defeated Leicester Tigers 59-26 on Tuesday night as part of the historic Barbarians RC team.
London Irish forward Jebb Sinclair makes his return to the second row alongside Tyler Hotson, and the trio of Kyle Gilmour, Nanyak Dala and John Moonlight remain as Canada’s loose forwards.
Scrum half Gord McRorie, who scored two tries in last weekend’s 28-23 loss to Championship XV in Worcester, will provide service to the backs through Connor Braid at flyhalf.
In the centres, Canada Sevens stalwarts Ciaran Hearn and Conor Trainor will inject an exciting level of pace and skill through the midfield. Joining Duke on the wing will be Ospreys’ Jeff Hassler, who has five tries this season for the Ospreys, and DTH van der Merwe of the Glasgow Warriors.
Melbourne Rebels flanker Sean McMahon will make his senior Australia debut against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
The 20-year- old replaces injured Scott Fardy and is one of two changes to the side that lost 29-28 to New Zealand in October.
Number 8, Ben McCalman, takes over from Scott Higginbotham, who is also sidelined through injury.
Quade Cooper and Will Genia are among the replacements after starting in the win over Barbarians at Twickenham.
McMahon featured in the Baa-baas game and has been rewarded for a strong performance with a starting place against Wales.
George North is set to start at centre when Wales face Australia in the first of their November internationals at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The dynamic Northampton wing was named at outside centre by Wales coach Warren Gatland on Tuesday after injuries deprived him of regular midfield backs Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams.
Now North will partner fellow British and Irish Lion Jamie Roberts in midfield, with his usual left wing berth taken by Scarlets’ Liam Williams.
However, North does have experience of playing in midfield, having started there when Wales beat France during last season’s Six Nations and he has also started there for English champions Northampton.
At scrum-half, Kiwi boss Gatland has chosen Rhys Webb ahead of 87-times capped Mike Phillips.
Wales’ Jonathan Davies has failed to recover from injury in time to face Australia and so Northampton wing George North will switch to midfield.
It means Liam Williams starts on the wing with Leigh Halfpenny at fullback.
And Rhys Webb has been selected at scrum-half ahead of Mike Phillips for the match at the Millennium Stadium.
“We have been impressed with the form of Rhys and Dan [Biggar] at half-back for the Ospreys,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said.
“It will be good to see them together on this stage again.”
Bath loose-head Paul James is preferred to Gethin Jenkins, with the Blues player dropping to the bench.
Sam Warburton will lead the team from open-side, with Dan Lydiate taking the blind-side spot.
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