In November, the world is coming out to play once again. Accompanying the traditional internationals that will thrill fans in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy will be a series of Tests between the Game’s emerging nations, with the form guide for Rugby World Cup 2015 taking shape prior to December’s Pool Allocation Draw.
With time ticking down until the sport’s showpiece event kicks off in England, every team will be eager to put building blocks in place to ensure that they hit the ground running.
At the centre of the action will be a ground-breaking IRB International Rugby Series at Parc Eirias in Colwyn Bay, where Samoa, Tonga, Russia, Canada and the USA will be in action.
Samoa face Canada on 9 November, just a week before their Millennium Stadium date with Wales, while the USA take on Russia in a re-run of their Rugby World Cup 2011 pool match-up.
Two weeks later, the action will return to the home of rugby in north Wales, when Russia are up against Canada and Tonga face the USA.
As well as the Tests taking place in Colwyn Bay, there is a rich and varied series of matches across Europe and beyond.
After facing England at Twickenham, Fiji will take on Georgia in Tbilisi in what should be a fiercely contested encounter between two sides next to each other in the IRB World Rankings, while Romania will also fly the flag for Eastern Europe by hosting Japan – who also face Georgia, the French Barbarians and a Basque Selection – and the USA.
Both Georgia and Romania will be involved in Division 1A of the European Nations Cup in 2013, which over the next two seasons will determine the two direct qualifiers for RWC 2015. Also taking part are Portugal, who travel further afield in November for a taste of tough competition.
Os Lobos take on Uruguay in Montevideo on 11 November before hopping across the border for a showdown with Chile in Santiago the following weekend.
No limits to ambition
With only two direct qualification spots available – and one place in the repechage – from the European Nations Cup spanning two years, competition will be fierce and the teams will have high hopes of making a flying start after successful November campaigns.
Three other teams hoping to be involved at Rugby World Cup 2015 will also come face to face in Windhoek with Namibia welcoming Spain and Zimbabwe for a three-team tournament between 10 and 17 November.
As Rugby World Cup 2011 proved, there is a multitude of talent waiting to come to life away from the spotlight. It’s vital that these developing nations are given the chance to play regularly, making months like this November all the more important.
As Argentina have demonstrated, with their exploits at Rugby World Cup 2007 and rise to The Rugby Championship, there are no limits to ambition in this sport.
The IRB International Rugby Series in Colwyn Bay will be streamed live on www.irb.com. Click here for more information and a video preview.