Cardiff, Wales (AP) — Wales and Ireland will play their Six Nations rugby decider on Saturday under an open roof at Ireland’s request, despite a forecast of rain and 30 kph winds with 60 kph gusts.
Wales is attempting to win the Grand Slam in Cardiff, which has been issued a “yellow” weather warning from the Met Office for severe rain and wind from Storm Gareth on Saturday.
Ireland requested on Thursday for the Principality Stadium roof to be open, and it was confirmed on Friday.
Under tournament rules, both teams must agree for the roof to be closed. If there’s disagreement, the retractable roof stays open.
Ireland agreed to close the roof the last time it played in Cardiff in 2017, and coach Joe Schmidt then accused Wales of over-watering the pitch for half an hour before the match to stymie his team. Wales won 22-9.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has never liked the rule. He’s always believed Wales should dictate how it uses its own stadium. He wanted the roof closed this weekend so the match had more of a chance of being a spectacle.
“We know, as players, that it’s going to be open,” Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones said after the captain’s run on Friday.
Asked whether it made sense with the weather expected, he said, “You’d have to ask the Irish guys about what their mentality is.”
When asked if Ireland was trying gamesmanship, captain Rory Best played it straight.
“We made the decision on playing a game of rugby in the outdoors,” Best said. “There was a lot made of it, and more outside of our camp. Whether indoors or outdoors, it’s the same for both teams.”
Jones agreed. But did he prefer the roof decision to be in Wales’ hands? He also was tactful.
“That’s for the alickadoos (administrators) isn’t it? I don’t wear a shirt and tie long enough to make those decisions.”
Jones and Gatland, involved in his last Six Nations, were going for their third Grand Slam.
“He came in with one (in 2008) and it would be nice for him to leave with one,” Jones said. “There is a big 80 minutes before we can look at the romantic and sentiment side of it.”