WELSH Rugby Union chairman David Pickering believes Friday night Six Nations rugby is here to stay. The WRU have agreed to continue the experiment in 2010 by staging Wales’ Millennium Stadium clash with France at 8pm on Friday, February 26.
France’s thrilling 21-16 Friday night victory over Wales in this year’s RBS 6 Nations attracted the second-highest average television audience of the whole championship.
A final decision on the Friday night project will be taken after next year’s tournament – but Pickering believes it will become a roaring success.
“We are starting to see genuine reasons for saying the experiment is a successful one,” said Pickering.
“The match in Paris last year generated the biggest television audience for a game in France at an average audience of 5.9million and television audiences throughout the UK, Ireland and Italy were the second largest of all the 15 tournament games at 11 million.
“We had a sell-out Stade de France crowd, a tremendous atmosphere and produced one of the best matches of the tournament for the neutral.
“In Wales we would obviously like to reverse the result next year but we are looking forward to what should be a great night out in Cardiff for the fans, a bumper TV audience and a magnificent atmosphere for the players within the confines of the Millennium Stadium.”
The Wales-France fixture has been scheduled for round three of the 2010 championship after a weekend off and the WRU were delighted to have again avoided a home Sunday fixture.
“The schedule always throws up individual difficulties for every team and all sides have different elements to cope with in a season, but we are embracing Friday nights and the commercial impact for us has already been rewarding,” Pickering added.
The following day, Italy will host Scotland and Ireland play England at Twickenham in back-to-back fixtures.
Grand Slam champions Ireland open the 2010 Six Nations and the defence of their title against Italy in Dublin on February 6.
The tournament will climax in another super Saturday with Wales hosting Italy, Ireland against Scotland and England travelling to France for an evening kick-off.
RBS 6 Nations 2010 fixture schedule
Sat., Feb 6: Ireland v Italy (2.30), England v Wales (5pm).
Feb 7: Scotland v France (3pm).
Sat Feb 13: Wales v Scotland (2pm), France v Ireland (4.30pm).
Feb 14: Italy v England (2.30)
Fri. Feb 26: Wales v France (8pm).
Sat., Feb 27: Italy v Scotland (1.30pm); England v Ireland (4pm).
Sat., Mar 13: Ireland v Wales (2.30), Scotland v England (5pm).
Sun. Mar 14: France v Italy (2.30).
Sat Mar 20: Wales v Italy (2.30), Ireland v Scotland (5pm), France v England (7.45).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved