Wales Shortens Tour of US
(Hong Kong) 12 May 1997 -- Wales has unilaterally shortened its July tour of the United States by refusing to play in North Carolina, the agreed-upon location for the first two matches. The US National Team therefore announces the cancellation of Wales' July 1 match against the South RFU in Charlotte, and the July 5 match against the United States in Wilmington.

It remains that Wales will play a US Developmental XV on July 8 in San Francisco, and the United States on July 12, also in San Francisco. The tourists will then move on to Canada.

In correspondence relaying the decision, Welsh Rugby Union executives indicated the reason for the about-face to be the heat and humidity in North Carolina. However, as recently as April Wales had indicated its readiness to play in the Tar Heel state.

During negotiations, the WRU was appraised that any East Coast venue would be warm in July. Wilmington, North Carolina, was awarded the first test on the basis of a superior bid that included staging the international as the capstone to the 23d Cape Fear 7s, a prestigious competition that annually draws some 2,000 rugby players, and unprecedented civic and community support for an international match in the US.

"Naturally, we are disappointed for the organizers of the match in North Carolina as well as ourselves," General Manager and Head Coach Jack Clark said from Hong Kong, where the US is preparing for a Pacific Rim Rugby Championship contest this Saturday. "The pecking order of world rugby is what it is. We must now focus on the San Francisco leg of the tour."