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Author Topic: Wales' class of 2022 endure a year to forget with World Cup looming  (Read 772 times)

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So there we have it, the 2022 fixture list is over for the Wales rugby team.

With a Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) review into the failed autumn campaign pending, there may well be twists and turns on the coaching front over the next few days.

Wayne Pivac's future is in doubt with Warren Gatland a target for a potential short-term return.

But for the players, the international year is over. They will return to their clubs and regions until the Six Nations begins in February.

Over the years, Wales players have often come into a winning national set-up after being involved in struggling regional squads, but a win ratio of 25% in 2022 for Pivac's men shows that is no longer the case.

The statistics are stark: 12 games, nine defeats and just three wins, against Scotland, South Africa and Argentina.

There have been three blocks of matches - the Six Nations, the summer tour of South Africa and autumn series - with only one win coming in each section and no successive victories.

Wales started the year eighth in the world rankings and finish ninth.

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But they find themselves closer to Japan and Samoa, who are 10th and 11th respectively.

Not the preparation you want, then, 10 months before a World Cup where Australia, Georgia, Fiji and Portugal await in the pool.

More bust than boom
It was a year to forget with Welsh rugby often associated with a boom-and-bust culture but 2022 has had many more negatives than positives.

The high? In July, Pivac's team became the first men's Welsh side to defeat the Springboks in South Africa, a week after almost winning the first Test in Pretoria. Those heady days now seem a long way away.

The lows? In no particular order, being hopelessly outmuscled by Ireland in the Six Nations and becoming the first Wales side to lose at home to Italy and Georgia.

Then there was a 55-23 hammering by New Zealand, before throwing away a 21-point lead against Australia by leaking 26 unanswered points in 20 minutes.

Wales scored 20 tries in five games during their 2021 Six Nations title success. In 12 games in 2022, they managed 21.

The most alarming aspect has been the attacking shape on display, although it was arguably at its most impressive in the final game of the year against Australia, at least for the first hour.

Under Gethin Jenkins, the defence was one of the few positives during the Six Nations campaign, when Wales conceded just eight tries in five matches, despite the defending champions only finishing fifth in the tournament.

There were seven tries leaked in the three-Test summer tour of South Africa before 15 were conceded in the four autumn internationals, eight of them against the All Blacks.