JUDGEMENT DAY at Principality Stadium has broken the Guinness PRO12 attendance record again, this time – on Saturday (Apr 30).
Last year’s Welsh regional doubleheader was attended by 52,762 fans, comfortably surpassing the previous championship record, held by an Irish derby clash at the Aviva Stadium between Leinster and Munster in 2014.
The annual event, now in its fourth incarnation, more than doubles nearly every other attendance figure in Guinness PRO12 fixture list so far this season and has been tipped to become a must-see capacity occasion in the Cardiff capital by Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies.
With the 52,763rd ticket sold by the Principality Stadium ticket office this morning, the only comparable fixture to Judgement Day this year, to date, is again the Munster versus Leinster derby which attracted 43,108 to the Aviva at the start of this month.
The celebration derby day in Wales, dubbed JDIV, will see Cardiff Blues face the Ospreys at 2.30pm and then European Rugby Challenge Cup semifinalists Newport Gwent Dragons host the Scarlets at 5pm in back-to-back clashes under the Principality Stadium’s famous roof – in the penultimate round (21) of the Guinness PRO12.
The Blues and Ospreys are both still vying for a play-off spot this season, currently lying 10 and 14 points, respectively, behind the fourth placed Scarlets – with 15 points from three bonus point wins still theoretically available.
The all-important top six spots in the table – which would at present reading bring qualification for the 2016/2017 European Champions Cup – are also within touching distance for each side, as they are currently lying in eighth and ninth places.
Both of these teams will desperately want to beat their close rivals as the business end of the season reaches its climax, after first facing Benetton Treviso (Ospreys) and the Dragons (Blues) at home matches in round 20 this coming weekend.
For the JDIV game one victors it could then be ‘all on’ for round 22, the final weekend of the season, prior to play-offs, when the Blues travel to Edinburgh and the Ospreys host Ulster.
The Scarlets are currently the highest placed Welsh team in the Guinness PRO12 table, but they also have a tough run-in hosting Glasgow and travelling to Munster either side of their JDIV, match two, meeting with the Dragons.
The Newport Gwent region are mathematically out of play-off contention and can’t finish in the top seven, but a strong run in Europe is keeping their season alive in style – they face Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals the week preceding JDIV.
The Dragons could qualify for the European Champions Cup outright if they win its sister tournament and so would be forgiven for keeping one eye on that campaign, but derby bragging rights remain at stake as always on Judgement Day to ensure them no respite.
“Last year’s Judgement Day fixtures saw us process thousands of tickets on the day of the event and we fully expect a large walk-up crowd at Principality Stadium for another guaranteed record breaking day this year,” said a WRU spokesperson.
“It will be a proud moment when during the second match of the day we announce our final crowd figure and set another new record for attendance at a Guinness PRO12 match-day.
“But, whilst it is great news for us at the turn-styles that we get so many last minute purchasers for this celebration of regional rugby, we would like to remind people that buying tickets in advance is the best way to ensure they get the seats they want and don’t miss out on any of the action.
“We will continue to monitor sales and keep the public up to date as we near capacity, but the best way to ensure that you don’t miss out on a magnificent day of regional rugby at Principality Stadium is to buy now and join the 53,000 others who have already joined Judgement Day celebrations.”
Commenting on the record-breaking crowd, Martin Anayi, managing director, PRO12 Rugby said:
“Judgement Day has become one of the Guinness PRO12’s ‘must-go-to’ events and it is terrific news that with three weeks to go until the event the previous attendance record has been broken.
“With over 28,000 recently attending the Guinness PRO12 derbies in Wales; over 43,000 flocking to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium for Leinster against Munster; and the climax to the season, the Guinness PRO12 Final at BT Murrayfield on 28 May, already on course to be one of the biggest finals ever; it shows there is a huge appetite and opportunity for fans to be part of some great Guinness PRO12 occasions over the last two months of the season.”
Mark Davies, Chief Executive of Pro Rugby Wales said: “It’s very positive for Welsh Rugby and Guinness PRO12 that this major club rugby event in our season is building so successfully and that we’ll exceed last year’s record crowd at the Principality Stadium.
“The Judgement Day doubleheader will be a fantastic conclusion to a successful series of Welsh derbies over the past month that have captured the spirit and passion of Welsh rugby – with supporters looking forward to another big derby this Sunday at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park as the Cardiff Blues face the Newport Gwent Dragons.
“It’s one of most exciting and significant periods we’ve ever had in a block for professional rugby in Wales with potentially 100,000 supporters enjoying Welsh derbies over a six week period at such a critical stage in the Guinness PRO12 battle for our teams.
“There’s so much riding on these games and with it the chance to see our best players in Wales both current internationals and future stars playing on the same pitch on the same day.”
Tickets for Judgement Day IV have been frozen at 2015 prices and can be purchased now at £10 per person (booking fees apply) from www.wru. wales/tickets (print at home available), by calling 0844 847 1881, in person from the WRU Ticket Office on Westgate Street, from each of the four regions or from Tesco stores throughout Wales.
Season tickets purchased from either of the home teams – Blues and Dragons – include access to Judgement Day IV, with fans asked to liaise with the respective box offices.
Both matches will be shown live on television with BBC Wales showing the first match and S4C the second.
Mumbles win well against Ammanford seconds
AMMANFORD seconds suffered a heavy 125 run defeat at the hands of Mumbles at Marespool.
Winning the toss, Ammanford invited Mumbles to bat first, and a terrific 188 run partnership for the second wicket, featuring Ben Jones (94) and Stuart Seaton (77), helped the home team to a healthy 221 for 4 in 45 overs.
Several Ammanford batsmen got into double figures but none were able to stay long enough to make any impression on the run chase. Eirian Morgan top-scored with 25, but the Ammanford innings finished disappointingly on 96 all out.
Gethin Morgan and Phil Roche each took three wickets for Mumbles.
Thirds beaten by Landore
Ammanford thirds travelled to Landore only to lose their match by 50 runs.
Ammanford skipper Carl Griffiths put Landore in to bat, and the home team scored 148 for 9. Landore
skipper Terry Summerfield top-scored with 33.
Ammanford’s Tom Davies was chief wicket-taker with 4 for 38.
Despite a solid 30 from opener and man-of-the-match Tom Davies, Ammanford failed to get anywhere near the required target and folded their innings on 98 inside 34 overs.
The defeat dropped them out of the top half of division six on the SWCA.
Cwmamman United Juniors host end of season event
CWMAMMAN United juniors held their end of season event at Clwb Godre’r Mynydd Ddu Glanamman.
As they celebrated throughout the day with their different age groups from Under 6 to Under 14 it looked as if almost every child in the Cwm had attended at some point.
The Juniors section at the club has grown to around 150 children over the last couple of years and with a dedicated and enthusiastic group of committee, coaches and volunteers behind them the club is excitedly anticipating further growth.
A fantastic time was had by all with all age groups proudly having their moment in the sun.
Robert Griffiths the Clubs Junior Chairman said: “I have to thank all our fantastic people at the club that get the kids out playing whether sorting games, coaching, fund raising or organising events such as our club parties and awards such as these.
“We continiue to grow and if your child would like to be part of a safe, healthy and fun environment they are most welcome here.”
Depleted Ammanford beaten by seven wickets
A DEPLETED Ammanford lost by seven wickets to Bridgend Town in a rain affected match at windswept Newbridge Fields on Satuday (Jun 25).
With the start delayed by over an hour because of rain, the match was reduced to 39 overs before a ball was bowled, and the toss immediately became the crucial factor in deciding the game’s outcome.
Bridgend won it and, predictably enough, put Ammanford in to bat.
The writing was on the wall as the visitors lost two wickets for 9 runs on an unpredictable wicket which was one of the first bowler-friendly tracks encountered this season.
Only four batters reached double figures as wickets fell at regular intervals. Top scorer was 14 year old wicket-keeper Gruffudd Owen (19no) who took the game to the visitors and looked capable of scoring many more had he not run out of partners.
Ammanford were all out for 90 inside 30 overs.
Tea was taken early as more heavy rain swept across Newbridge Fields, but unfortunately for Ammanford the sun made a reappearance and play eventually resumed.
The Bridgend batters did not have it all their own way, quickly losing both openers to opening bowler Owen Davies.
Davies removed a further wicket in a good spell of 3 for 15, but Thomas Cogbill (43no) and Luke Humphries (18) saw Bridgend safely home without further trouble inside 24 overs.
Next week, Ammanford welcome second placed Swansea to the Park, the memory of their 700+ run clash at St Helen’s still fresh in their minds.
Thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run
Ammanford thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run in a rain adjusted match at the Rec.
Batting first, Ammanford reached 132 all out, thanks mainly to their captain Carl Griffiths (41) and Dafydd Wyn Jones (21).
Rain meant that Pontardawe’s reply was restricted to just 16 overs, during which they had to score 53 runs.
They came very close, but two wickets each from Oliver Pallot and Iwan Matthews interrupted their progress and they fell short by a single run, finishing on 51 for 5.
The victory moved Ammanford into the top half of SWCA’s Division 6.
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