Western Mail

Wales set to face New Zealand, South Africa AND Australia in mouthwater­ing autumn schedule

- BEN JAMES Rugby writer ben.james@walesonlin­e.co.uk This newspaper is published by Media Wales, a subsidiary company of Reach PLC, at 6 Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR, and printed by Newsquest Printing Oxford, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0EJ. Registered as a n

WALES are set for a bumper autumn fixture list later this year, with world champions South Africa, Australia and Argentina all reportedly being lined up to face Wayne Pivac’s men.

News that the Springboks and Wallabies could be heading to Cardiff comes less than 24 hours after reports that New Zealand are also due to play in the Welsh capital.

Wales’ schedule for October and November has yet to be confirmed by the WRU, but The Rugby Paper are claiming that Alun Wyn Jones and his team are due to face each of the southern hemisphere big guns at the

Principali­ty Stadium. If the reports prove to be correct, it sets up a mouth-watering schedule of backto-back games for the Six Nations champions to test themselves against the finest players from down under.

Presuming the autumn internatio­nals are fit to go ahead as planned in light of the coronaviru­s pandemic, this would be the first time Pivac has taken charge of Wales against southern hemisphere opposition on home soil - or at all, depending on what happens with Wales’ summer tour of Argentina and Uruguay.

And the test could seemingly not be any more daunting.

If the autumn runs as the Rugby Paper are claiming, it would see Wales take on the All Blacks on October 30 without their English-based stars such as Taulupe Faletau and Dan Biggar, as the money-spinning match is planned for outside the official Test window.

Wales would then host the world champion Springboks just seven days after on November 6.

An unnamed opponent would come to Cardiff for the weekend of November 13, with suggestion­s that could potentiall­y be the Pumas.

Wales would then wind up the autumn with a November 20 clash against Dave Rennie’s Wallabies.

Fixtures do not get more gruelling than that schedule but it is definitely a sequence of matches to excite Wales fans.

As well as being a proper test of Pivac’s Six Nations champions, the autumn could potentiall­y mark the return of supporters to Welsh matches.

A series of trial events are being held over the coming weeks and months, with the hope being a permanent return of spectators at sporting events follows.

The hope would be that Wales are able to welcome fans back to the Principali­ty Stadium for this proposed bumper autumn campaign in what would be a much-needed boost to the WRU’s coffers after the financial hit of coronaviru­s.

Fans are keen to see Wales in action again, particular­ly against the quality of opposition that is being suggested for the autumn.

■ Walker’s dire warning for Welsh rugby: Pages 42&43

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