By Mark Wyatt
The schedule of matches that Wales will play in the 2019 Rugby World Cup has been revealed and it should be a smoother journey than the one they faced in 2015.
The sides featuring at the Japan competition already knew which teams they would be facing in the pools but there was no information on who would play who and when, until now.
Wales’ group features Australia, Fiji, Georgia and one of either Canada or Uruguay, with the Americas 2 position still to play for.
The WRU were eager to find out when their games ahd been scheduled for and hoped to avoid the quick turn-around they faced at the 2015 tournament.
Wales’ stunning win over England at Twickenham at the last World Cup was bittersweet for the squad as they then only had five days to recover and prepare for their next test against Fiji.
The fatigue was clear to see but Wales made it through the encounter, only just though.
There will be no such scheduling in Japan however, Wales face Australia on 29 September and then have a full 10 days to prepare for their next match on 9 October against Fiji once again.
Wales are set to open their World Cup campaign against Georgia on 23 September, a positive result here would certainly be welcome with the Wallabies being the next fixture in the Tokyo national stadium.
Following the Fiji clash there will be a chance to cement qualification in the final match against Americas 2 (Canada or Uruguay).
Should Wales finish top of their pool then they will likely face either Argentina, France or England in the quarter-finals and this could mean they may avoid the All Blacks in the semi-finals.
Wales will get a good taste of what to expect in Japan when they face off against Georgia and Australia in the Autumn Internationals.
They’ll play the Wallabies on Nov 11 and take on Georgia one week later on Nov 18.
Warren Gatland’s side will be determined to send out a message against Australia, who are high on confidence themselves after recently edging a thrilling victory over New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup.
Georgia, who are still vying to eventually earn a place in an expanded Six Nations, are also set to make history with their first test match in Cardiff in which they will no doubt be aiming to prove a point.
Whilst the group is a tricky proposition for Wales, it symbolises a significant improvement on the “Group of Death” they faced in 2015 featuring both Australia and England.
They will have high hopes of progressing and going deep into the competition as they seek to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.