As Wales begin the defence of their men’s Six Nations title it is quite hard to know exactly where Wayne Pivac’s side stand.
Last season’s Championship was built on narrow victories against Ireland and Scotland, and the team reserved arguably its best performance of the tournament for the defeat to France.
Wales finished 2021 with a 29-28 defeat of 14-player Australia but could only watch on as their rivals chalked up victories against New Zealand and the world champions, South Africa.
𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗪𝗲𝗹𝘀𝗵 𝘀𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝘂𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝘅 𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀.— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) January 18, 2022
Wales have named a 36-man squad for the Guinness Six Nations featuring three uncapped players as Dan Biggar captains for the campaign.
➥ Dan Biggar fydd capten Cymru ar gyfer Chwe Gwlad 2022.
Injuries have impacted Pivac’s squad selection, however, with three home matches to come do not discount them from another Championship challenge.
Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, 5 February (kick-off: 14:15 GMT)
Wales’ title defence will be tested on the opening weekend when they visit Dublin, where they haven’t beaten Ireland since 2015.
One of the standout matches of the Championship, the hosts will be hoping to extend their eight-match winning streak, which included November’s win against the All Blacks.
Should Wales end that run, however, hopes will be raised that Pivac can mastermind a second successive title.
Wales v Scotland, Principality Stadium, 12 February (KO: 14:15 GMT)
Last season’s 25-24 victory at Murrayfield, in which Zander Fagerson received a second-half red card, was Wales’ 13thdefeat of Scotland in 15 tests, dating back to the start of Warren Gatland’s reign.
Scotland’s two wins have come in the last six, however, and Gregor Townsend’s side recorded a first victory in Wales for 18 years when the teams met in Llanelli during the Six Nations 2020.
England v Wales, Twickenham, 26 February (KO: 16:45 GMT)
Always a highlight of any Six Nations Championship, Welsh fans began to believe the title was on after their 40-24 win against England in Cardiff last year.
Wales haven’t won at Twickenham since their famous victory at Rugby World Cup 2015, losing on each of their five visits since.
Two years ago, a late rally proved to be in vain as England held on to win a pulsating encounter 33-30.
Wales v France, Principality Stadium, 11 March (KO: 20:00 GMT)
At one time it looked as though Friday night visits from France to Cardiff would become something of a new Six Nations tradition, however this will be the first one since 2016.
Wales won that last Friday night fixture thanks to a try from George North but lost their first home Six Nations encounter with Les Bleus for a decade when France were in town two years ago.
If Wales are to successfully defend their Championship crown, they cannot afford to let Les Bleus win this one.
Wales v Italy, Principality Stadium, 19 March (KO: 14:15 GMT)
Wales bring their Championship campaign to a close with back-to-back home matches and whatever has happened in the previous four rounds they will be confident of ending it on a high.
Wales have never lost to Italy at home in 16 meetings and have won the last nine since an 18-18 draw in Cardiff in 2006.
Moreover, the teams have met five times in round five since Italy joined the Six Nations and Wales have won on each occasion.
Wales’ Six Nations 2022 fixtures (all times GMT)
Ireland v WALES, Aviva Stadium, 5 February, 14:15
WALES v Scotland, Principality Stadium, 12 February, 14:15
England v WALES, Twickenham, 26 February, 16:45
WALES v France, Principality Stadium, 11 March, 20:00
WALES v Italy, Principality Stadium, 19 March, 14:15