November schedule brings RWC 2015 rehearsals
With all 13 of the nations confirmed so far for Rugby World Cup 2015 in action next month, the November internationals will provide a valuable window of opportunity for teams to assess players in a competitive environment, fine tune tactics and evaluate progress as the countdown to the tournament continues.
While the November 2012 internationals saw the 12 direct qualified teams battling to gain valuable IRB World Rankings points ahead of the Pool Allocation Draw, this year’s fixtures will give teams around the world the chance to ensure the building blocks are firmly in place with less than two years to go until rugby’s showpiece event.
Some teams will even have the chance to take on opponents that they are set to face at RWC 2015, giving an insight into how they match up against their pool phase rivals as they enter the business-end of preparations for the tournament. Three of next month’s internationals will be dry-runs of RWC 2015 pool matches:
2 November: England v Australia at Twickenham
30 November: Wales v Australia at Millennium Stadium
17 November: Scotland v South Africa at Murrayfield
But it isn't just the Tier One nations that will be in action in November. As well as the traditional internationals that will thrill fans in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy, there will also be plenty of eye-catching Tests between rugby’s emerging nations.
Of the host of November internationals involving Tier Two nations, there are some fixtures which could be repeated at RWC 2015, among them are:
9 November: Scotland v Japan (Asia 1) at Murrayfield
9 November: Romania (Europe 1) v Tonga at Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest
9 November: Georgia (Europe 2) v Canada at Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi
16 November: Romania (Europe 2) v Canada at Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest
Tier Two nations will play a record number of Test matches next month. The expanded schedule is financed and supported by the International Rugby Board which, largely thanks to the success of Rugby World Cup as a major global brand, invests more than $17 million each year in high-performance programmes and competitions for Tier Two Unions.
Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Russia, USA, Canada, Romania, Japan, Uruguay, Portugal, Georgia, Chile, Brazil and Spain are all in action, with the three Pacific Island teams and Japan once again facing Tier One opposition as they enter an important phase in preparations for RWC 2015 - or a key qualifier against the Cook Islands next year in Fiji's case.
The November schedule also represents an important milestone in the evolution of international Test rugby, with historic first-ever visits by Pacific Island Unions Samoa and Tonga to Georgia and Romania respectively, as well as Portugal visiting Sao Paulo to take on Brazil for a first-ever Test match between the two sides.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The November 2012 and June 2013 programmes have really showcased the tremendous competitive strides that Tier Two Unions are making with Samoa defeating Wales, Scotland and Italy, Tonga defeating Scotland and Japan recording a first-ever victory over Wales. I am anticipating a truly captivating November series of matches."
The November internationals are an important part of the journey to RWC 2015, and you can be a part of it by joining The Front Row to receive all the latest news, including information on tickets and volunteering; www.rugbyworldcup.com/frontrow.