Wales to face top three in autumn 2014
December 4, 2013
North and co will have a shot at all three major southern hemisphere sides © Getty Images
Wales' preparations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup have been handed a massive boost after confirming they will play all three major southern hemisphere sides in next year's autumn internationals.
The IRB's top three sides - New Zealand, South Africa and Australia - will all visit the Millennium Stadium next autumn, as will Fiji. It will be a dress rehearsal for the following autumn where Wales will bid to go one step further than 2011 and make it to the final of the World Cup.
After defeats to South Africa and Australia this year, autumn 2014 will be the final chance for Wales to prove they can beat the best on home soil before the southern hemisphere sides return for the following year's flagship event.
WRU group executive Roger Lewis believes the fixtures are a massive boost to Wales' preparations for the tournament and an indication they are taking every step to ensure they can be a genuine contender in 2015.
"We have consistently said, if you want to be the best, you have to play the best and the 2014 November schedule reconfirms that commitment," he said.
"We have just witnessed another exhilarating, tough November series and next year will be ideal preparation for the squad ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. We will only have 12 matches in total in the run-up to our opening game at the tournament, so we must secure every opportunity to test ourselves at the highest level."
The matches against New Zealand, Australia and Fiji will be part of the IRB window, with South Africa confirmed as the fourth match of the series. Dates and kick off times will be confirmed at a later date.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in Pictures