Fiji, Samoa and Tonga will enjoy the best preparation yet for a World Cup after the November Tests were announced by the International Rugby Board.
With some compelling matches, November will see Tier Two teams clash with some of the top sides in world rugby ahead of next year’s RWC.
Fiji, who open Rugby World Cup 2015 against host country England, will benefit from a demanding schedule as they face 2015 pool opponents Wales in Cardiff on November 15, just one week after they play France in Paris.
Their Pacific neighbours Samoa will also get their chance to face Tier One Union opposition when they travel to Twickenham to play RWC 2015 hosts England on November 22 having faced Italy in the opening weekend of the window.
Tonga will play Scotland on November 22 while Georgia, who will host two fixtures at home, get to face Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin on November 16.
Another highlight of the November calendar will be the visit of New Zealand to Chicago where they will play the United States on Saturday, November 1, in the Windy City.
Tier Two Internationals will also be played in France’s north west this November. Building on the success of hosting the IRB Junior World Championship 2013, Stade de la Rabine in Vannes will play host to Samoa as they take on Canada on November 13, while USA will play Fiji at the same venue on November 20.
“This year’s November internationals will give crucial preparation opportunities to all RWC 2015 participating nations as the tournament rapidly approaches,” said IRB Head of Competition and Performance Mark Egan.
“Part of the IRB’s strategy is to provide quality Test competition on a regular basis for Tier Two nations in order to boost the competitiveness of the Game, and there is no doubt that the forthcoming November internationals, coupled with our portfolio of strategic investment competitions in June, will help achieve that.
“In 2014, Tier Two countries will play 13 Test matches against Tier One opposition. We were very pleased to see Fiji, Samoa and Japan secure victories against Tier One opponents Italy in June and both Canada and USA put in very competitive performances against Scotland. There is increasing evidence that the competitiveness gap is narrowing and Rugby fans can look forward to some exciting fixtures in the November Test window.
“We are also committed to ensuring that the highest ranked Tier Two Unions have an opportunity to play each other in the November window and Georgia and Romania in particular, will benefit yet again from hosting and exciting programme of test matches in Tbilisi and Bucharest, respectively.”
The Tier Two programme is being financed and supported by the IRB, which invests more than £10 million each year in high-performance programmes and competitions for Tier Two countries.
- Planet Rugby