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Internationals remaining before the RWC

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How is your team preparing for the Rugby World Cup?

In 100 days, the 2019 Rugby World Cup will kick off in Japan with the hosts taking on Russia.

The Top 14 final, taking place this weekend, marks the last match in the premier European club competitions for the year. The English Premiership and Pro14 concluded earlier this month whilst the European-wide competitions finished up in May.

The final of USA’s Major League Rugby will also take place this weekend, with defending champions the Seattle Seawolves travelling south to California to take on the San Diego Legion.

In the Southern Hemisphere, Super Rugby is entering the last weeks of the competition. The final will take place on July 6th, at which point the players will get a small breather before 2019’s Rugby Championship kicks off.

With club season well and truly winding down, national sides will now start their preparations for September’s showpiece tournament.

Europe’s top sides contested the Six Nations back at the beginning of the year so there is no silverware up for grabs between now and the World Cup. Instead, the sides have arranged a number of friendlies amongst themselves. Georgia and Russia will also get in on some of the action, duking out a match between themselves whilst also getting in a few matches against the likes of Scotland, Italy and Argentina.

Before those ‘friendlies’, however, Russia still have one remaining fixture in the Nations Cup. Russia, Namibia, Uruguay and an Argentina XV are all squared up with one win and one loss each. Russia and Namibia will do battle this weekend while American sides Uruguay and Argentina will also lock horns.

That will mark the end of Namibia’s international fixtures prior to the World Cup, however, with the African side instead taking part in the second tier of South Africa’s Currie Cup. Given that the Namibians are placed in a pool with the All Blacks and the Springboks at the World Cup, this preparation seems far from ideal.

Fellow Nations Cup side Uruguay also have a fairly empty build up to the World Cup this year. The South Americans will host Spain in the coming weeks, then have nothing scheduled until a match with Brazil in early September. Neither of those opposition sides qualified for the World Cup, giving you an indication of the paltry competition that Uruguay will come up against in 2019. While Namibia at least have the worsening Canada in their pool, Uruguay are comfortably the fifth ranked team in Pool D. Accruing points against even the likes of Fiji and Georgia will be difficult to come by – especially when you consider the build-up those two teams have.

Georgia, as mentioned, have matches against other European opposition, while Fiji have an excellent warm-up schedule ahead of them. Before the Pacific Nations Cup kicks off in late July, Fiji will play a home-and-away series against the Maori All Blacks. The PNC will then see Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan, Canada and the USA trade matches (although only three each), before Fiji finish off their warm ups with a match against Tonga at the end of August.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, Samoa will play a New Zealand Heartland XV before taking on Australia at the beginning of September whilst Tonga follow up their match against Fiji with a fixture against the All Blacks.

Hosts Japan have had an interesting year, with many of their national players representing Japan against Super Rugby B teams. Their only scheduled international fixture before the World Cup is against South Africa, who they famously beat in the pool stages of 2015’s tournament.

The United States’ sole match after the Pacific Nations Cup will be against rivals Canada – who will also host Irish behemoths Leinster in Ontario.

South Hemisphere big wigs still have a shortened Rugby Championship to attend to in 2019. Each team will play each other once, before South Africa and Argentina match up in a bonus game while New Zealand hosts Australia in a second Bledisloe test.

While there’s a little bit on offer for every side, it’s clear that the tier one nations have considerably more useful warm-up schedules than the minnows. While there’s definitely an argument for not overplaying your hand or overworking your players in the lead up to a World Cup, having a team of match fit, pressure-ready athletes is equally as important. We’ll have to wait and see which method is more successful.

International fixtures between now and the World Cup

Argentina

20 Jul v New Zealand
27 Jul v Australia
10 Aug v South Africa
17 Aug v South Africa
31 Aug v Russia

Australia

20 Jul v South Africa
27 Jul v Argentina
10 Aug v New Zealand
17 Aug v New Zealand
7 Sep v Samoa

New Zealand

20 Jul v Argentina
27 Jul v South Africa
10 Aug v Australia
17 Aug v Australia
7 Sep v Tonga

South Africa

20 Jul v Australia
27 Jul v New Zealand
10 Aug v Argentina
17 Aug v Argentina
6 Sep v Japan

England

11 Aug v Wales
17 Aug v Wales
24 Aug v Ireland
6 Sep v Italy

France

17 Aug v Scotland
24 Aug v Scotland
30 Aug v Italy

Ireland

10 Aug v Italy
24 Aug v England
31 Aug v Wales
7 Sep v Wales

Italy

10 Aug v Ireland
17 Aug v Russia
30 Aug v France
6 Sep v England

Scotland

17 Aug v France
24 Aug v France
31 Aug v Georgia
6 Sep v Georgia

Wales

11 Aug v England
17 Aug v England
31 Aug v Ireland
7 Sep v Ireland

Fiji

13 Jul v Maori All Blacks
20 Jul v Maori All Blacks
27 Jul v Japan
3 Aug v Canada
10 Aug v Samoa
31 Aug v Tonga

Samoa

27 Jul v Tonga
3 Aug v USA
10 Aug v Fiji
31 Aug v New Zealand Heartland XV
7 Sep v Australia

Tonga

27 Jul v Samoa
3 Aug v Japan
9 Aug v Canada
31 Aug v Fiji
7 Sep v New Zealand

Japan

27 Jul v Fiji
3 Aug v Tonga
10 Aug v USA
6 Sep v South Africa

Canada

27 Jul v USA
3 Aug v Fiji
9 Aug v Tonga
24 Aug v Leinster
7 Sep v USA

USA

27 Jul v Canada
3 Aug v Samoa
10 Aug v Japan
7 Sep v Canada

Georgia

27 Aug v Russia
31 Aug v Scotland
6 Sep v Scotland

Russia

15 Jun v Namibia
17 Aug v Italy
27 Aug v Georgia
31 Aug v Argentina

Namibia

15 Jun v Russia
Numerous Currie Cup fixtures

Uruguay

15 Jun v Argentina XV
22 Jun v Spain
7 Sep v Brazil

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How is your team preparing for the Rugby World Cup?