The Autumn Internationals; a time for Northern Hemisphere money making, the domination of New Zealand and Wales losing every game, but only just so of course there’s positives. The Pro12 meanwhile gets put on the backburner amid lost star players and dwindling attendances.
Team Wales have started the issues that clubs have with the November period early this year by managing to withhold over 20 senior Welsh players from the Welsh derbies on the weekend before the internationals have even started thanks to a mess-up in scheduling administration. Somehow nobody noticed that the derbies were inside the 13-day release period that the national team requires for it’s home based players.
With the WRU unwilling to risk players getting injured they released just four for the Welsh derbies, and managed to increase the frustration felt from a Cardiff point of view by withholding Ellis Jenkins from club duty as he was with the training with the Wales squad. Clearly tackle bag holding is more important than promoting the professional club game in Wales.
Nevertheless Team Wales call-ups are important for the club as the WRU payments for the services provide are an important income stream. Of course they are also a great honour for the player and it is always pleasing to see someone you have supported getting a chance at international rugby after playing well for Cardiff.
This November we have eight representatives in the senior squad with Rhys Gill, Gethin Jenkins, Kris Dacey, Scott Andrews, Sam Warburton, Lloyd Williams, Gareth Anscombe and Alex Cuthbert all selected, while Ellis Jenkins and young full-back Rhun Williams have been invite to train with them. There is also Matt Sherratt acting as the attack coach with Rob Howley stepping up to the top job to cover Warren Gatland.
Wales will play four matches, against Australia, Argentina, Japan and South Africa on the four Saturdays in November, meaning the players will not be available for Treviso (A) or Connacht (A) in the Pro12, as well as Exeter (A) and Ospreys (H) in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, unless they are released by Team Wales management.
Away from the land of WRU mis-management there are internationals taking place involving Cardiff Blues players across the rest of Europe. Centre Rey Lee-Lo has been called up to the Samoa squad for their three Autumn International encounters with France in Toulouse on the 12th, Georgia in Tbilisi on the 19th and finishing with Canada in Grenoble on the 26th. Therefore he will be unavailable for the Anglo-Welsh Cup games and Connacht away, returning for Ulster home in December.
Finally, USA Eagles are landing in Europe as well this month with games against Romania in Bucharest on the 12th and Tonga in San Sebastian, Spain on the 19th. Cam Dolan is picked alongside Blaine Scully who is named as a co-captain. They will be missing for both Anglo-Welsh Cup games but should be available for selection in the side to face Connacht away on the last weekend of the month.
Congratulations to all 13 players and one coach involved with the national teams this Autumn and good luck in all matches. Most importantly though, don’t get bloody injured!