As the winter months come looming, Owen Scourfield rounds up the best sporting goods on offer this month.
WALES FOOTBALL EUROPEAN QUALIFIERS
Various venues, Tue 12, Sat 16 and Tue 19 Nov
Wales’ hopes of reaching the European Championships once again are still alive. The latest outings threw a mixed bag of results; two draws, one of which the players would have been disappointed to not take all three points. Taking the lead out in Slovakia, Wales looked comfortable but conceded a sloppy equaliser, while three days later Croatia took an early lead at the Cardiff City Stadium. Step up Captain Bale, who clinically buried the ball into the back of the net before half time.
To finish the qualifying stages there is a trip to Azerbaijan (Sat 16) and a home game against Hungary (Tue 19). You’d hope for six points here, but Wales’ fate is out of their hands and dependent on other results.
The Welsh Women’s team are also in action for qualification to UEFA’s Women’s Championship. Currently sitting second in their group after a 1-0 win against Belarus last month, the squad travel to Northern Ireland on Tue 12 Nov with the aim of stealing another three points.
WSAPLD SOUTH WALES SWIMMING GALA
Cardiff International Pool, Thurs 14 Nov
The Welsh Sports Association For People With Learning Disabilities is a charitable organisation which provides sporting opportunities for people aged 10 and above across Wales at local, national and international level. It was set up in 1981 when it became clear that there was no governing body in Wales that catered specifically for people with learning disabilities; the first National Games were held in 1982. This year’s gala will be hosted in partnership with Swim Wales and will see the format change slightly, but will increase the intake to include swimmers from a wide range of disabilities.
EUROPEAN RUGBY CHAMPIONS CUP & CHALLENGE CUP
Various venues, Sat 16, Fri 22 and Sat 23 Nov
There’s no rest for Europe’s elite rugby players: European club rugby kicks off less than two weeks after the final whistle of the World Cup Final. Granted, some high-profile players may well have earnt a rest for these opening games, but Wales’ four regions will want to field as strong a squad as possible to record winning starts.
The Ospreys are the only Welsh region in this year’s Champions Cup and they are once again in the ‘pool of death’. Round 1 sees European giants Munster cross the Irish sea to the Liberty Stadium, while the Swansea-based region travel to London in Round 2 to take on current European Champions Saracens.
Despite being classed as the secondary tournament, the Challenge Cup always accommodates some big-name teams fighting it out. For the Scarlets, Round 1 brings London Irish to Llanelli, while Round 2 makes for a daunting trip to French big spenders Toulon. Cardiff Blues kick off away in Italy against Calvisano, before welcoming east Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers to the Arms Park for Round 2. Newport Dragons hit a tough wall in Round 1, as French outfit Castres Olympique travel to Rodney Parade; Round 2 swaps Newport for Krasnodar, Russia for a clash with Enisei-STM.
Tickets: prices vary. Info: www.epcrugby.com
WALES V BARBARIANS
Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Sat 30 Nov
The end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan also spells the end of Warren Gatland’s legendary tenure as Wales coach. With Wales set to contest the semi-final as Buzz goes to print, there’s no better way to give the Welsh rugby icon the send-off he deserves than to have him back in the Principality Stadium as coach of the opposition: the Barbarians. Fan-favourite referee Nigel Owens has had special dispensation from World Rugby to take charge of the game, his first in a test match involving Wales, who will be under the reigns of Wayne Pivac for the first time. A ticket for this one will also allow you to watch Wales Women take on the Barbarians in the stadium earlier in the afternoon.
Tickets: £10-£50. Info: www.principalitystadium.wales
WELSH MASTERS OPEN – SQUASH
Sport Wales National Centre, Fri 6 – Sun 8 Dec
Squash flies straight under the radar here in Wales in the mainstream, yet we have individuals flying high in both the men’s and women’s senior game. Tesni Evans is currently 9th in the women’s world rankings, while Joel Makin sits 12th in the men’s rankings. A great sport for increasing fitness levels as well as being suitable for all ages, whilst a Masters Circuit held in various countries across Europe continues throughout the year. Early December sees Cardiff hosting the next leg in the series tour