Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies has explained how the nationwide postponement of football fixtures prompted a U-turn on Wales’ Guinness Six Nations clash against Scotland going ahead.
The WRU insisted this morning that Saturday’s game in Cardiff would be played before a 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium crowd despite the coronavirus outbreak.
But less than five hours later, the WRU called the game off with Davies saying that the governing body had found themselves “probably the lightning rod for the virus, and for the publicity”.
Wales’ Guinness Six Nations clash with Scotland at Principality Stadium in Cardiff tomorrow has been postponed.March 13, 2020
“It’s been a tough week,” said Davies, who told BBC Radio Wales that the WRU had given the go-ahead to the game being played at an emergency board meeting on Thursday night.
“We obviously followed the advice of the central government, Welsh government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence and that was the case until last night (Thursday) when we met to consider everything.
“We still thought that bearing in mind the advice that was the way to go.
“The Premier League, for example, were carrying on but that had changed for maybe obvious reasons.
“The English Football League went on a similar course, as did the Celtic-Rangers game, so I think we found ourselves probably the lightning rod for the virus and for the publicity.
“We spoke to government this morning who totally understood our position.”
An earlier WRU statement, announcing the postponement of the fixture, said “every effort has been made to stage this game” and that the governing body “appreciates that individuals will have been inconvenienced”.
The WRU added that further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture would be made “in the coming days”.
It becomes the fourth game to be postponed in this season’s Six Nations.
Ireland’s games against Italy and France had already been called off, in addition to England’s appointment with Italy in Rome.
No dates for rearranged games have yet been announced, although late October is thought to be an option.
The Scotland squad, meanwhile, had arrived in Cardiff and trained at the Principality Stadium on Friday.
🗣A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: "All the Scotland players and management team would like to pass on their thanks to the Scotland fans who were aiming to attend the match and share their disappointment this game now will not be played."https://t.co/ADeXNiOXPx— scotlandteam (@Scotlandteam) March 13, 2020
A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: “Scottish Rugby has acknowledged the decision of the WRU to postpone tomorrow’s Guinness Six Nations match in Cardiff.
“While it is disappointing the fixture could not go ahead, there are clearly wider public safety issues unfolding at this unprecedented time.
“We support the WRU in the difficult decision they have had to make and will continue to have a strong relationship with them going forward.
“All the Scotland players and management team would like to pass on their thanks to the Scotland fans who were aiming to attend the match, and share their disappointment this game now will not be played.
“The team will aim to return to Scotland at the earliest opportunity.”
Had the game gone ahead, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones would have equalled the world record held by New Zealand’s World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw of 148 Test match appearances.
But that feat will now be put on hold probably until the summer, when Wales play Tests against New Zealand in Auckland and Wellington.
The WRU, meanwhile, said that Friday night’s Six Nations Under-20 game between Wales and Scotland in Colwyn Bay will be played behind closed doors.
A decision on whether lower-level rugby in Wales will continue will be made at a WRU Community Game Board meeting on Saturday.