Wales confirm Principality Stadium roof will be open
Heavy rain predicted for Saturday with a weather warning in place for strong winds
Wales head coach Warren Gatland during the Captain’s Run. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Wales have confirmed that the Principality Stadium roof will be open for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations game. This decision comes despite a foreboding weather forecast for Cardiff and the surrounding region on Saturday, with heavy rain predicted and a weather warning in place for strong winds too.
The decision to close the roof needs the compliance of the away team, and Warren Gatland had intimated that Ireland would insist on the roof being open at his Thursday press conference.
Speaking after the Welsh captain’s run in the stadium this morning, which was conducted under a closed roof, Alun Wyn Jones confirmed as much. “We know, as players, that it’s going to be open.”
Asked if it made sense for Ireland to want it open given the forecast, the Welsh captain said: “You’d have to ask the Irish guys about what their mentality is. We’ve trained here on a few occasions with it open and closed.”
Gatland had repeated his belief that “it’s our stadium and we should be able to do what we want with it” and asked if he felt the same, Wyn Jones: “That’s for the alickadoos isn’t it? I don’t wear a shirt and tie long enough to make those decisions! At the end of the day, the pitch and conditions are the same for both teams.”
He also played down the significance of sealing Gatland’s 50th and last Six Nations game with a Grand Slam.
“He’s got a bit more of his contract to go, so he’s not done just yet! It’s his last Six Nations but there’s a bit to go yet so we’re not going to let him sail off into the sunset just yet.”
Wales are seeking their third Grand Slam in Gatland’s tenure, but Wyn Jones said the build-up to this finale was different.
“There are a lot of different people to the ones that have been involved before. It’s nice to be able to do it at home but there is pressure. I’ve said before, the closer you get to something like this, the further away you can be sometimes. We’re very grounded, we know we have to work hard. In every performance we’ve had, there have been areas for improvement.”
The way he described it pressure, as they say, is for tyres.
“It’s a cliché but it’s a privilege, isn’t it? You want to put yourself in this position. Ask any rugby player - this is what you dream about. We’re at home, with what is going to be a great atmosphere and these are the occasions you work for.”
Wales-Ireland games are rarely dull, and have added spice given provincial/regional rivalry as well as the familiarity of Lions tours.
“Domestically, you look at the success the Irish teams have had over the years. In the last 18 months, as well, they’ve probably set the standard in northern hemisphere international rugby. They’ve claimed a few big scalps and they’ve been, arguably, the most consistent team. We’re well aware of their calibre and the results they’ve had in the last 18 months.”
Although Wales would appear to have more to play for, Wyn Jones maintains: “I think it’s both. From our point of view I think it’s us but I can’t speak for the Irish team. We are well aware of the quality side they are, the arm wrestles they have won and the close games over the last 18 months or two years.”