If you don’t know what they are, or who they are played between, you’re not alone.
For the record, The Wallabies will face Scotland on June 5 – the Hopetoun Cup their reward for a win, and then – just 4 days later – take on the Welsh in the first of three tests to decide who leaves with the James Bevan Trophy.
It’s the June test schedule, and to a lot of people, it doesn’t mean much. Compare it to the Rugby Championship, or the Bledisloe, and it doesn’t rate. Why? Because the home nations, England aside, don’t carry the rivalry that Aussie fans love. That, and we expect to win.
In light of these tests there has been a lot of discussion about team selection, in particular who will play fly-half. Beale, Barnes, Cooper and maybe even young Zack Holmes, after his performance on the weekend, are all vying for this spot. In several other positions there are also debates about who should be in the team.
The squad for these matches – while singularly important – should be selected with a view to the future of the side.
Scotland and Wales are tough competitors and deserve the Wallabies respect. Wales are 6 Nations champions and pushed the Wallabies all the way in the playoff match last year. To underestimate either team would be to do so at your peril (remember Samoa last year) but these games are ideal to blood new talent and create depth, something that Australia has been criticised for lacking.
If supporters, the players and the ARU were all to choose what they would prefer to win between these trophies and the Bledisloe and Rugby Championship title, all would choose the latter two. To become competitive in these key competitions, and the World cup in 2015, Australia needs to develop depth in their squad. This will only come through experience. These games against Wales and Scotland are perfect to give fringe players a chance to push for a test spot. There’s no secret that Will Genia is our premier scrum-half but Robbie Deans needs to find out who his understudy will be. This is the same scenario for openside: Pocock is a world-beater but it is unclear whom between Gill and Hooper should be his protégée.
The Wallabies should look to win every test but in reality some games are more important than others. Although a one-off test against Scotland might not be as important as a World Cup Final, it is vital because it provides an opportunity to build a world cup winning squad. After all, the road to the 2015 World Cup is long and Australia needs all the talent it can muster. This task starts in Newcastle on June 5 when they can regain the Hopetoun Cup and hopefully some fresh faces will be there in the green and gold.
- O’Connor to miss Wallabies’ June Tests (iol.co.za)