Wales will face Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa in next autumn’s Under Armour Series at Principality Stadium, it was confirmed today, with tickets available from a club near you now.
Head coach Warren Gatland’s side will begin their final international season leading into the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan by hosting Scotland on Saturday 3rd November, with the Wallabies, Tonga and the Springboks set to follow on consecutive Saturdays in the month.
Scotland will be the first tier one northern hemisphere side to visit the Welsh capital for an autumn fixture since the first four-match series was played out in 2001 and the fixture will also contest the ‘Doddie Weir Cup’ – created in honour of, and to raise money for, the charity of the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions lock who is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.
The opening fixture of the 2018 UA Series will also be notable for two new enhancements to the stadium experience.
Firstly, the trial of a designated seating area in the North Stand where fans will not be able to take alcoholic drinks to their seats and, secondly, a 30% increase in disabled seating which will help make Principality Stadium even more accessible to more people
Tickets for the UA Series are available now from all WRU member clubs priced at £25, £35, £45, £65, £75 and £15 concession (U16s) for the three tier one matches – against Scotland, the Wallabies, on Saturday 10th November and the Series climax against the Springboks on Saturday 24th November.
Tonga is on sale at £15, £20, £25, £35 and £10 (U16s), with a total of 215,000 tickets available at the stated concessionary prices across the four match campaign (47,000 more than in 2017).
The alcohol free zone has been introduced after extensive research conducted with supporters who attended the UA Series in 2017 and the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations – these tickets are available to book with clubs immediately and are priced at £20 and £10-concession for Tonga and £45, £15-concession for the other three matches.
“First and foremost we have an impressive fixture list for the Under Armour Series this autumn, one that will challenge Warren and his team and provide ideal preparation for the following Six Nations Championship and the 2019 Rugby World Cup thereafter, and also some fascinating contests to capture the imaginations of the rugby loving public in Wales,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.
“The matches are as accessible as they have ever been, with supporters able to buy tickets now from their local clubs, where they can be sure the money spent directly benefits the club due to a unique cashback scheme we operate with our member clubs.
“We have listened to supporters and have over 215,000 concessionary tickets available to under-16s and we have also conducted extensive research with supporters over the course of our last seven home matches.
“We know that, for the vast majority, having a drink is an important part of the match-day experience.
“Equally we have also identified a customer group who would welcome an alcohol free zone and we are pleased to confirm that this will be trialled at each of the four matches this November..
“We will provide further details of the trial shortly, including more information about purchasing tickets for these seats.
“We are very proud of our stadium experience, but don’t want to be complacent.
“Having looked at the data and listened to fans we’re confident that offering more choice is the way forward and we are grateful to our many partners for their help and support in making this new initiative possible.
“We’re also delighted to announce an increase in disabled seating which is further evidence of the importance we place on having a broad offer for fans.”
Wales have regularly faced the top southern hemisphere sides in the autumn Test window with Australia now on their 13th trip just tipping New Zealand (10) for the most visits to Cardiff in that time – South Africa will make their ninth appearance, with Argentina on five, to date.
Tonga will make their third appearance in the series in Cardiff, but, of the tier two nations Fiji have been the most prolific visitors, matching the Pumas’ five - Romania and Canada have made three appearances, Samoa and Japan two, with the Pacific Islands and Georgia (last year) completing the set with a visit each.
When the Scots kick-off the 2018 campaign it will be another first for Welsh rugby and a chance for an autumn audience to sample a fixture which carries 134 years of history with it.
“We are particularly pleased to be able to give supporters the opportunity to attend a Scotland game,” added Phillips.
“Tickets for this game are like gold dust during the six nations and we very much hope that this fixture gives supporters, who might not normally get the chance to see a Wales face Scotland in an international, the opportunity to experience the unique atmosphere created against our near neighbours and friends.
“The game carries with it years of tradition and rivalry which should appeal to rugby supporters across both countries and we will be encouraging a range of fixtures across the community game to reflect the history of our two great rugby nations.
“We will provide a new ‘Doddie Weir Cup’, with related contributions made to the ‘My Name’5 Doddie Foundation’, which will be played for whenever the two sides meet in Cardiff,”
“The 2017 Under Armour Series was a resounding success for Welsh rugby with around a quarter-of-a-million supporters turning out to cheer Wales on at Principality Stadium.
“We will continue to look for innovative ways of maximising the appeal of these matches for Welsh and visiting supporters alike and believe that our 124th meeting with Scotland could be the first of an exciting new brand of fixtures for the autumn campaign.”
The Scots haven’t won in Cardiff since the 2002 Six Nations (22-27), the only other time the two sides have met outside of the Six or Five Nations Championship, in the 135 history of the fixture, was a summer friendly game in Cardiff in August 2003, which Wales won 23-9.
Any remaining tickets will go on public sale directly from the WRU on Friday 25 May from 10am, with pre-registration open to the public from Monday 16 April.
2018 UNDER ARMOUR SERIES (Kick-off times to be confirmed)
Wales v Scotland, Saturday 3rd November, £75, £65, £45, £35, £25, U16s £15
Wales v Australia, Saturday 10th November, £75, £65, £45, £35, £25, U16s £15
Wales v Tonga, Saturday 17th November, £35, £25, £20, £15, £10, U16s £10
Wales v South Africa, Saturday 24th November, £75, £65, £45, £35, £25, U16s £15
- 70,000 Australia and South Africa tickets have been frozen in price, across the three lowest categories - £45, £35 and £25
- Under 16 tickets also remain frozen in price (£15 Tier 1, £10 Tier 2)
- The Tonga fixture has 12,000 seats cheaper in price, with the lowest price halved at now £10 and prices for 37,000 tickets are frozen at £35 (the top price ticket) and £20.
- 215,000 Under 16 tickets are available across the series (47,000 more than the 2017 UA Series)
- The first time Wales took on four international teams in the autumn period was 2001 when three November clashes against Argentina, Tonga and Australia were preceded by Romania’s visit to the national stadium in mid-September.
- The series was first seen in its current form, played out over back-to-back weekends primarily in November, in 2004 (Romania also provided the opposition to open a four game series in 2002, although this match was played at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham North Wales).
Updated 00:31 - 10 Apr 2018 by Gary Williams