As June swings around once again, another packed summer of international action gets set to begin in all corners of the world. After a busy season of club rugby, players are thrown straight into the action with barely a moment to catch their breath.
Cardiff Blues will once again be well represented over the next few weeks, with 13 players packing their bags to prepare for trips to North America, South America, the Pacific Islands and across Europe with important games along the way.
Starting with Warren Gatland’s men, and Team Wales are embarking on a transatlantic tour this summer, for a money-making exhibition with South Africa in Washington DC, and then a two-test series with Argentina in South America.
Resting the British and Irish Lions players after a busy 12 months for them, Gatland has opted for a younger squad with a number of fringe and new players given the opportunity to stake a claim for a World Cup place.
For Cardiff Blues, that means Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies and Tomos Williams are included, with each keen to get some serious game time with senior players missing, especially scrum-half Tomos who travelled to the Pacific Islands last summer but did not get onto the pitch.
Gareth Anscombe will have further chance to shine in a number ten jersey, with Dan Biggar not touring, while there is a great source of pride for the club as Ellis Jenkins is named as tour co-captain, along with Cardiff Blues graduate Cory Hill.
There was unfortunate news though, as Josh Navidi was named in the initial squad but ruled out with the shoulder injury picked up in the Challenge Cup Final, however, Josh Turnbull has benefitted from Aaron Shingler’s misfortune to earn a well deserved late call-up to the squad.
2nd June – South Africa – Washington DC
9th June – Argentina – San Juan
16th June – Argentina – Santa Fe
While Wales will be playing in the USA this summer, the Eagles will be taking on three other teams as they begin to prepare for the World Cup in just over a year.
In the first set of fixtures after the creation of Major League Rugby, the Americans will take on Russia, Scotland and Canada as they look to test themselves before taking on England, France, Argentina and Tonga in an incredibly tough World Cup pool.
Blaine Scully will once again captain the side, with only Eric Fry of Vannes having more caps than the winger in the squad, while former Cardiff Blues number eight Cam Dolan, now of San Diego Legion, is also included.
9th June – Russia – Denver
16th June – Scotland – Houston
23rd June – Canada – Nova Scotia
While the USA Eagles have already qualified for the World Cup, Samoa are still yet to do so, after finishing third of the three Pacific Island sides in qualifying so far.
After the debacle that has engulfed the tier two teams in Europe over the last few months, Manu Samoa have been the unfortunate injured party of it all, messed about in terms of knowing who their last chance World Cup qualifying play-off opponents will be and when the games will be played.
Eventually they have discovered that they will be play the winner of Germany v Portugal, which will be decided on the 9th June, over two legs to decide who goes to Japan.
Rey Lee-Lo has again been named in the squad that will play tests against Fiji and Tonga before those play-offs take place at the end of June and mid-July.
9th June – Fiji – Suva
16th June – Tonga – Suva
30th June – Portugal/Germany – tbc in Samoa
14th July – Portugal/Germany – tbc in Europe
While the senior internationals are ongoing, the annual Junior World Championship will again take place this summer, with this edition of the tournament hosted by France.
Incoming Cardiff Blues backs/attack coach Jason Strange will prepare the team, but not coach them during the tournament, as they take on a real pool of death.
Australia, New Zealand and Japan will be the opponents for our representation of Rhys Carre, Iestyn Harris, Dane Blacker, Ben Jones and Ben Thomas.
There was bad luck for Alun Lawrence, who was due to join them in France but has had to withdraw due to injury, however former Cardiff Met and Cardiff RFC, and current Pontypridd RFC prop, Will Davies-King has been called up to join the squad.
Wales U20 fixtures
30th May – Australia U20
3rd June – New Zealand U20
7th June – Japan U20s
Best of luck to all the Cardiff Blues players and coaches involved in international action over the next few weeks!