The four Welsh clubs will head to South Africa for the resumption of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship eager to salvage some of the pride that was battered by the national team’s unexpected defeat to Georgia at the weekend.
Wales, a week after beating Argentina’s Pumas but just a fortnight after a heavy thrashing by the All Blacks, who scored more than 50 points against them in Cardiff, fell at home to the Eastern European nation on Saturday. the first time they do it. so.
The defeat brought references to the dark days of Welsh rugby in the 1990s, which included a nearly 100-point demolition at the hands of South Africa in Pretoria in 1998, as well as a seismic World Cup loss to Western Samoa.
With the loss to Georgia in the same year that the Welsh lost at home to Italy, there are big questions being asked not only about the Welsh team and the future of national team manager Wayne Pivac, but also about the state of club play. Wales salvaged some pride after the defeat of Italy that ended a miserable Six Nations campaign by winning the intermediate test in their three-game series in South Africa, their first success against the Springboks on South African soil, but the recent sequence of results has surpassed Wales returns to the point of crisis.
The Welsh media and former players have gotten into the team, with former Bok World Cup winning winger Bryan Habana, in Wales as a TV pundit, joining the fray by suggesting that the veteran lock and captain of British and Irish Lions Alun Wyn Jones should be called up to the Wales captaincy.
But many of the autopsies have gone much further, investigating the state of club play in Wales. The current international results are certainly not out of line with what has been happening with Welsh club teams competing in the URC, with no Welsh team last year making it into the top eight of the inaugural competition and thus not there was Welsh representation in the play-off phase.
A curveball for the Welsh teams this week is that they will all travel to South Africa with key players missing for international duty, with Pivac under pressure who will surely want everyone to get down to business as their side prepare to play the last game. autumn international season match against Australia in Cardiff on Saturday.
Australia will have been decimated by injuries and club calls – the game falls outside the international window – but that should make it all the more crucial for Wales to get a much-needed win to ease the pressure. Of the 35 players Pivac called up in early November, 15 players were from the Ospreys, seven from the Scarlets, five from Cardiff and three from the Dragons.
So the Ospreys, who have the difficult task of rising to the heights to face the Bulls, will consider themselves against them, and the Scarlets too when they travel to Cape Town to face the champions on Friday night.
Fortunately for the Scarlets, the Stormers should be considerably weakened by their representation in the Bok team who are currently in London preparing for Saturday’s clash with England at Twickenham. However, John Dobson’s men have shown signs of impressive growth in team depth recently and the Stormers could welcome this opportunity to give fringe players a run ahead of a difficult December and January that will feature a handful of games. crucial derby matches over the festive season, as well as their entry into the European Champion Clubs’ Cup competition for the first time.
The Bulls don’t have as many Boks these days as the Stormers or the Cell C Sharks, and the latter team will be part of a double header on Sunday that, in addition to their game against Cardiff in Durban, will also feature the Emirates Lions. against the Dragons in Johannesburg in the early afternoon.