Wales facing prospect of 6N without home crowds

Wales’ first Six Nations home match at Principality Stadium is due to take place on February 12 and currently only crowds of 50 are allowed to attend outdoor events in Wales; First Minister Mark Drakeford tells Welsh Government briefing that the measure is to remain in place

Last Updated: 07/01/22 5:21pm

Louis Rees-Zammit and Wales could face playing home Six Nations games behind closed doors
Louis Rees-Zammit and Wales could face playing home Six Nations games behind closed doors

Wales still face the prospect of playing their Guinness Six Nations home matches behind closed doors after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced current restrictions must remain in place.

Uncertainty continues to hover over the viability of fans attending the team’s first home match of the competition with Scotland on February 12. France and Italy are also set to visit Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in March.

Crowds of only 50 are allowed to attend outdoor events in Wales, as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continues to spread. Drakeford has insisted there will be no lifting of safety measures for at least another two weeks.

“We have to see the tide turn on the Omicron wave. We have to manage our way through the very difficult weeks that follow while numbers are still rising,” Drakeford told a Welsh Government briefing.

Wales are the reigning Guinness Six Nations champions
Wales are the reigning Guinness Six Nations champions

“There are ways in which we have learned over the pandemic to make major events organised in safer ways.

“It’s always been the case that the risks in major events are less at the event itself, particularly when those events are well run as certainly the autumn internationals were.

“It is how people travel to the stadium, it is how people gather around the stadium, it is how people behave. Not at the game, but around the game.

“So there are further measures that could be adopted that would help to mitigate those risks.

Guinness Six Nations – Rounds One and Two

Round One Ireland vs Wales February 5 at 2.15pm
Scotland vs England February 5 at 4.45pm
France vs Italy February 6 at 3pm
Round Two Wales vs Scotland February 12 at 2.15pm
France vs Ireland February 12 at 4.45pm
Italy vs England February 13 at 3pm

“Of course, we would all far prefer to be in a position where the Six Nations could go ahead with people watching the game here in Wales.

“The issue that is under the microscope is whether we can do that safely. Whether the number of people falling ill with the virus is so high that adding further to that risk simply would not be a responsible thing to do.

“I know it’s really difficult when you’re organising a major event and you’re under the pressure of time, but we won’t know that for the next couple of weeks.

“But we will be watching that very carefully and as I said, as soon as we can make a decision, we will make a decision. But the decision will be made on the grounds of public safety and public health safety.

“In the end, that has to be the top consideration for the Government.”

Baxter: Playing whole 6N in one country may be best

Rob Baxter believes playing this season’s Six Nations in one country has ‘got to be better than cancelling it’ or playing in empty stadiums.

The Welsh Rugby Union is exploring the option of staging home games in England in a bid to generate an income from the Six Nations should the shut-out of meaningful crowds continue.

“I make no criticism of the WRU for exploring all the options that are available to them,” Drakeford said.

“They are a business and as a responsible business, it seems to me that they are bound to look at all the different possibilities that are there in front of them.

“Whether they will choose to go ahead and play games elsewhere with the undoubted risks that would bring, were we to be still in the eye of the storm of coronavirus, I think is a very debatable question.

“But whether I have any problem with them looking at the options that they have available to them, no I don’t.”

Source : Sky Sports