With four weeks of URC rugby under the belt on South African shores. Wales will be left with plenty to think about ahead of their tour to SA. Wales are set to play a 3 test series in South Africa commencing on the 2nd of July at Loftus, with further tests scheduled for Bloemfontein and Cape Town on consecutive weekends. Recent results between the two sides have been relatively close, with a single score separating them. However, the recent string of results in the URC make for an interesting read.
Wales are currently ranked 9th (79.28 pts), whilst the Boks are in 1st (90.61 pts). The Welsh team will be landing in South Africa on the back of a shock 22 - 21 loss to Italy, at home in the final round of the Guinness 6 Nations and a desperation to atone for their poor showing in this years tournament, which saw them finish 5th overall, with a single win to their name. Will they be able to pick themselves up for the tour? If the URC results are the yard stick, then Wales are in for a very tough few weeks in the Rainbow Nation.
The Welsh sides over the last month, played 8 fixtures in SA in total, 2 matches per team. Whilst some faired better than others, overall the Welsh will be disappointed with what they were able to produce in SA. Out of 8 fixtures, the four Welsh sides lost all 8. This may be enough to conclude that they were simply outmuscled in their away fixtures, but an examination of the results themselves paints an even more dire picture.
In the 8 fixtures, combined the Welsh sides scored a total of 106 points (an average of just over 13 points per game). The South African sides on the other hand, scored 351 points (for an average of 44 points per game). This illustrates just how wide the gap is between the two countries conferences and how much work they will need to do in the final rounds of the competition in order to build their confidence ahead of their mid year tour to the very same country and stadiums.
Of the Welsh sides, the Dragons were the worst, conceding a total of 106 points in two fixtures. The Scarlets didn't do much better and conceded 94 points, whilst Cardiff came in 3rd, conceding 77 points, with the Ospreys the best having conceded a total of 74.
As things stand, none of the Welsh sides will make the play-offs, with only the top 8 going through (full explanation of the play-offs available here) The Scarlets are highest on the log in 10th place, but are unlikely to unseat the higher ranked sides who are in excess of 10 points clear on the log. Is the Welsh form indicative of things to come? Or will Wales front up to the challenge as they normally do?