JUDGEMENT DAY VII, the 2019 incarnation of the annual ‘super day-out’ for Welsh rugby which sees all four regions face-off in back-to-back Guinness PRO14 matches under one roof, will take place at Principality Stadium on Saturday, April 27, – and tickets are on sale from tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11am.
Wales’ international heroes will collide in Cardiff as the Dragons face last year’s PRO14 finalists the Scarlets in the first match of the day, kicking-off at 3pm, before Cardiff Blues host the Ospreys at 5.15pm in front of an expected 60,000-plus crowd.
Off the pitch the Welsh Rugby Union and regions have also moved to secure the future of Judgement Day, agreeing a new partnership for the next four years.
Previously, the two home sides and the WRU shared income generated from gate receipts, but a fundamental shift in the way the Judgement Day event is to be managed means that now all four regions are part of the agreement.
All four regions will now play a regular home game at Principality Stadium as part of Judgement Day and 80% of the ticket profits for the event will be split between the two nominated home teams, with the two away teams receiving 20%.
The WRU and the regions will work with Guinness PRO14 on organising fixtures so that, ideally, the Ospreys and Scarlets, for example, would play a nominated home game in the year when they have 11 home fixtures in the season, ensuring all four regions play ten games at their own venues throughout each year.
The other major advance under the new agreement will see ALL season tickets holders from the visiting teams granted access to ticket prices frozen at just £10 per head (£5 concession for U16s) when purchased from the relevant region’s ticket office, with home team season tickets continuing to include Judgement Day.
“The aim is to reward and say thank you to all season tickets holders for their continued support of Welsh rugby,” said WRU CEO Martyn Phillips.
General ticket prices, which have been frozen at £10 for the last three years, are increasing for the 2019 event, however, the introduction of an ‘early bird’ offer will ensure tickets also remain available at the frozen price (which includes £5 concession) to all supporters, if bought in the lower tier before Tuesday, December 4.
General prices are £25 middle tier (£10 concession) and revert to £15 for both lower and upper tier adult tickets after the ‘early bird’ lower tier offer ends – with the £10, U16 concession ticket remaining to ensure the family event is accessible for all.
“We have evolved our approach to the Judgement Day concept over the years, it has become a must see attraction in Welsh rugby’s annual calendar and a celebration of the regional game,” added Phillips.
“We have been working hard on ensuring that the event goes from strength to strength and a fundamentally collaborative approach, ensuring all four teams are now fully incentivised financially as well as competitively on the field, is the way forward.
“Judgement Day attendances have now broken the 60,000 mark for the last three years in a row, this is consistently the top fixture in the Guinness PRO14 calendar and we will be doing everything in our power to ensure it comes back even bigger and better at the culmination of a huge season for Welsh rugby ahead of RWC 2019.”
Judgement Day VII will be a final chance for Wales’ selectors to see the large majority of their potential Rugby World Cup squad pit their wits against each other, before warm-up matches later in the summer (Wales face England at Twickenham on August 11).
“The Judgement Day concept has become a landmark occasion for the Guinness PRO14 and it’s terrific that it will continue for another four years, but it’s even better news to hear that the partnership has been enhanced to provide rewards for all four teams involved,” said PRO14 CEO Martin Anayi.
“Judgement Day brings a showcase of what Welsh regional rugby has to offer, from the pageantry and passion that Principality Stadium provides to the sheer international quality of the teams testing themselves in the white-hot derby environment.
“The consistently high attendances that attract die-hard fans, families and new supporters alike, have been the product of incredible work by the WRU and the regions. That working relationship has become even stronger now and that can only be to the benefit of rugby in Wales and the Guinness PRO14. Long may it continue.”
As well as the ‘early bird’ offer, which discounted tickets at £10 and £5 concession until Tuesday, December 4, a Christmas gift option is also available at the point of purchase which adds a festive card for the recipient and guarantees delivery before Christmas Day if ordered by 12 noon on December 20, for £4.
Print at home tickets, which don’t incur a postage charge, are available in all categories, with normal booking fees at £1 per ticket and post & packaging at £3, from tomorrow, via www.wru.co.uk/tickets.
Judgement Day VII, Saturday, April 27, Principality Stadium:
Dragons v Scarlets – Kick Off 1500hrs
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys – Kick Off 1715hrs
Scarlets slay Dragons
Tries from man-of-the-match Sione Kalamafoni and replacement Sam Costelow, combined with the boot of Dan Jones ensured Glenn Delaney’s side made it a festive double to move them up to second in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 standings.
The Scarlets weren’t at their free-flowing best and will be frustrated by the amount of handling errors and ill-discipline in their performance, but the winning run continues ahead of next week’s clash with Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.
Despite a rare dry night in Llanelli, the opening 40 minutes was littered with errors from both sides and it meant the game had little flow.
The Scarlets enjoyed plenty of possession and territory, but too often passes failed to go to hand.
It was the Dragons who were first on the scoreboard thanks to a penalty from the boot of ex-Scarlet Josh Lewis.
Wales lock Jake Ball limped off moments later with a knee injury to be replaced by Tevita Ratuva, while Wyn Jones, on his 100th appearance, also left the field for a head assessment.
The outstanding Kalamafoni made a powerful surge up the middle of the field to put the Scarlets on the offensive, but again a promising move broke down.
Dan Jones levelled matters on 29 minutes, then added another penalty on the stroke of half-time after a quick tap from Kieran Hardy.
The Scarlets continued to enjoy the better of play in the second period, but had to wait until 57 minutes for the game’s first try.
More pressure led to Gareth Davies being taken out off the ball and Dragons lock Matthew Screech being shown yellow by referee Nigel Owens.
Scarlets went for the corner instead of the shot at goal and a well-worked training move saw Kalamafoni charge across the whitewash for his first try in Scarlets colours, a score converted by Jones.
With former Scarlet Rhodri Williams adding a spark, Dragons looked for an immediate response, but a brilliant turnover from Ratuva snuffed out the threat.
Then in the final play, replacement Sam Costelow picked up a loose ball, sped through the gap and around the final defender for a superb solo score, with the Wales U20s fly-half adding the conversion for good measure.
After the hard-fought win, Scarlets coach Glenn Delaney said: “I suppose it was a compelling contest of a different nature. You saw a lot of kicking battles going on, neither team wanted to give the other counter-attacking opportunities.
“I thought defensively we were very resolute, I never felt we were in danger on our goal-line, it was a bit stop-start with a couple of drop balls, but I am delighted to get the win and we did create a bit more in the second half.
“With these derby games, I am learning every time we play one, they all seem to be pretty much like this and perhaps bring out the best and worst in us because of the individual competition and contest.
“We would have liked to have done a bit more with the ball and the attacking breakdown with us was poor, the Dragons turned over a bit of ball there so we need to be better in that area and make sure when we make the breaks we are able to capitalise.”
Scarlets’ late surge sees off Ospreys
Ospreys 14 – Scarlets 16
The Ospreys, playing as the official ‘home’ team at Parc y Scarlets, had led for the majority of a tense contest.
But with 71 minutes on the clock, a superb off-load from replacement Blade Thomson paved the way for full-back O’Brien to slice through and dive over for the crucial score.
Man of the match Dan Jones added the conversion to put the Scarlets in front for the first time and the West Walians were able to finish the match on the front foot to claim the annual festive bragging rights and a crucial win to keep them in the hunt in the Conference B standings.
O’Brien hadn’t been named in the original match-day 23, but was brought in at the 11th hour as a replacement for Johnny McNicholl.
In blustery conditions, Scarlets enjoyed the early pressure, but despite hammering away at the Ospreys line were unable to come away with any points.
Instead, it was the Ospreys who were first on the board after 14 minutes through the boot of fly-half Stephen Myler.
The opening quarter was proving a cagey affair with both sides unable to get any momentum going.
A moment of individual brilliance from scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams, who dummied and sprinted clear from 40 metres, extended the Ospreys’ lead on 22 minutes, but the Scarlets’ response was swift with Jones landing a penalty straight from the kick-off.
Jones hit the upright with another attempt, then a pin-point cross-field kick from Steff Hughes just evaded the grasp of wing Steff Evans with the line at his mercy.
A powerful scrum on the stroke of half-time led to a long-range penalty chance, but O’Brien’s strike drifted wide with the Ospreys going in ahead 8-3 at the break.
Myler extended his side’s lead early in the second half, but Jones kept Scarlets in it with his kicking out of hand and off the floor.
Two more penalties from the Carmarthen fly-half to one from Myler made it 14-9 going into the final 10 minutes.
Then the Scarlets struck.
With Thomson having a big impact off the bench, the back-rower plucked a ball out of the sky as the Scarlets surged forward. He was involved again soon after, producing a sublime pass to O’Brien who cut a great angle to the posts.
With only two points in it, the Scarlets showed their composure to make their way downfield and set up camp in ‘home’ territory for the final minutes, denying the Ospreys any chance to snatch the win.
Council plasterer becomes world champion darts player
A CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council plasterer has just become a world champion darts player.
Jonny Clayton, from Pontyberem, lifted the World Cup of Darts trophy on Sunday alongside fellow Welsh-man Gerwyn Price
The pair beat top-seeds England 3-0 in Salzburg, Austria, becoming the first ever Welsh winners of the championship.
When he’s away from the dart board, Jonny – ranked 16 in the world – spends his time plastering new and renovated homes and schools for Carmarthenshire County Council.
Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said it’s an honour to have a world champion on the pay-roll.
“We are immensely proud of Jonny and all that he’s achieved,” he said. “What a fantastic achievement for him, a humble man from Pontyberem, to lift the trophy for his country in a sport that he loves.
“Jonny is a valued member of the Carmarthenshire County Council team, as talented at plastering as he is at darts. As with any member of staff representing their country in elite sports, we have given Jonny our full support to ensure he can work his day-job as well as having the time to train and compete.
“We’ll be proud to welcome him home to Carmarthenshire – and knowing Jonny, he’ll be back at work shortly having swapped his darts for his hock and trowel.”
The father of two – who earned his nickname The Ferret during his days as a scrum-half for Pontyberem RFC – spoke to media after his win describing himself as “the proudest man on the planet”.
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