This next Saturday (5 November), Wales will begin their 4-match autumn series of test matches. Saturday’s match is against Australia, and it will be our first test match since being beaten 46-6 in June by a rampant New Zealand to lose our tour there 3-0. In contrast, Australia have been involved in the Rugby Championship since their 3-0 series loss to England in June.
Australia won 3 of their 6 matches in the Rugby Championship, beating Argentina both home and away and beating South Africa at home. Since the last match of the Rugby Championship on 1 October, Australia have played New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland, losing 37-10 to notch up their third loss of 2016 to the All Blacks.
The four matches we will play are
- Wales v Australia – Saturday 5 November, kick off 14:30 GMT
- Wales v Argentina – Saturday 12 November, kick off 17:30 GMT
- Wales v Japan – Saturday 19 November, kick off 14:30 GMT
- Wales v South Africa – Saturday 26 November, kick off 17:30 GMT
Wales are currently ranked 5th in the world, with Australia ranked 3rd, South Africa ranked 4th, Argentina ranked 9th and Japan ranked 12th. So, on paper, our easiest match will be against Japan, our third match. It is a pity our first match is against possibly the strongest team of the series, as Wales notoriously start off each autumn test series poorly and we tend to improve as the series progresses. We are without Warren Gatland, who is on sabbatical to prepare for the Lions tour of New Zealand next summer, so in his place Robert Howley is head coach. Let us hope, with Australia coming off a loss against New Zealand, that Wales can notch up a long overdue win against the Wallabies.