Saturday 23 March 2019

Cardiff roof to be open after Joe Schmidt and Ireland stand firm despite weather warnings

The roof will be open at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. GETTY
The roof will be open at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. GETTY

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Ireland have requested that the Principality Stadium roof stay open for tomorrow's Six Nations finale against Wales, ignoring weather warnings related to the arrival of Storm Gareth to the Welsh capital.

Joe Schmidt yesterday signalled his intent to deny Warren Gatland's desire to keep the stadium roof open, citing his unhappiness with the Welsh watering the pitch when they agreed to close it two years ago.

Schmidt has not won a Six Nations game in Cardiff in his two attempts and is aiming to deny the Welsh Grand Slam ambitions tomorrow.

His decision comes despite a yellow weather warning being issued across parts of Wales, with gale force wins being forecast for the capital.

Under tournament rules, both teams must agree for the roof to be closed.

England also rejected the Welsh wishes to keep the roof closed last month before going down to their only defeat of the Six Nations.

Gatland has suggested that visiting teams are showing they fear the white-hot atmosphere when they keep the stadium open to the elements.

"It's our stadium and we should be able to do what we want with it," he said.

"It is not something we have spoken about all week and we just presume Ireland would be like England and ask for the roof to be open," he said.

"There is no doubt when the roof is closed does create more of an atmosphere in terms of the noise.

"Some teams are able to handle that and others can’t with the extra noise and pressure and what the crowd can deliver from a home point of view.

"Saying that I thought the atmosphere from the England game was up there with as good as I have ever heard especially the last 20 minutes. The crowd got behind us and they were amazing and if they do that again on Saturday it will be brilliant."

Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones has brushed off the controversy after Ireland's request to open the roof threatens to denude the expectant atmosphere amongst the thousands of Grand Slam chasing Welsh fans.

"We know, as players, that it's going to be open," said Wyn Jones, whose side trained with the roof closed as the rain crashed down on Cardiff City amidst gusting winds this morning.

"You'd have to ask the Irish guys about what their mentality is. We've trained here on a few occasions with it open and closed.

"The decision for the alickadoos isn't it? I don't wear a shirt and tie long enough to make those decisions! At the end of the day, the pitch and conditions are the same for both teams."

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