Wales line up south's big guns
YEAR-END NEWS: Wales will host three of the Southern Hemisphere’s big guns in their November Tests.
They will host Fiji, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa in November – one of the toughest year-end schedules in Cardiff to date is confirmed.
A climactic clash with the reigning World Cup champion Springboks brings down the curtain on a four-match series – which starts with Fiji’s flying visit to Cardiff on Saturday, November 7.
Next up the All Blacks are in town on Saturday, November 14, before Los Pumas, who last won in Cardiff in November 2012, roll-up in the third round on Sunday, November 22.
By the time Wayne Pivac’s Wales take on South Africa on Saturday, November 28, they will have faced every side in World Rugby’s top 10 – minus Australia (eighth) – during his first year (12 Tests) at the helm, plus 11th-placed Fiji.
The 2020 year-end series also see a new era of collaboration for the Six Nations unions and federations – after taking the ambitious decision to combine all broadcasting rights for their year-end internationals, a strategy that has long been in place for the Six Nations tournament.
Supporters benefit directly as all parties agree to games being scheduled around each other to minimise any overlap in fixtures, so more games can be enjoyed by more rugby fans.
A two-Test tour to New Zealand (ranked No.2 in the world) in July and a one-off June 27 overseas clash with Japan, ranked eighth, are first on the fixture list for Wales following the Six Nations Championship clashes with Europe’s finest currently at play, meaning Australia are the only top 10 side Wales will not face in 2020.
The Pumas, who are ranked 10th, and Fiji have both won once and lost to Wales five times since the turn of the century, but the home nation doesn’t need reminding that victory over the All Blacks has remained elusive since 1953.
* Continue reading below …
When the flying Fijians, who open the series, did beat Wales it was a highly notable win knocking them out of the 2007 World Cup in France at the group stages.
This clash was also followed by a 16-all draw three years later in the 2010 November series, but Wales’ record against Fiji is unblemished in four matches since.
South Africa was impossible to beat in the early 2000s, putting together an eight-match unbeaten run after Wales’ debut victory over them in nearly 100 years of trying in 1999.
More recently Wales managed a four-match winning streak in Cardiff from 2016 to 2018, but victory in the 2019 World Cup semifinal, when the two sides last met, was tantalising out of reach for the men in red.
The year-end series 2020 carries extra jeopardy as the draw for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France will be made following its conclusion.
Wales currently lie fifth in the World ranking system, but will be looking to finish the November matches in fourth spot or higher in order to secure a place in Band One of the draw and therefore avoid fellow top four teams when the World Cup pools are established.
The fact that Wales face almost entire top 10 opposition in the coming year means their destiny is in their own hands and meeting the All Blacks and Springboks in November means maximum ranking points will be available if they are needed.