Nigel Owens column: why the Cardiff crowd beat any other rugby experience in the world and what Wales need for the Six Nations – Nigel Owens

Like many others in Wales, I watched the run again on TV the other night of that famous Gavin Henson kick against England.

The 2005 moment, captured in a BBC Wales documentary slammed, brought back memories of a very special afternoon flood in our Welsh capital.

There is nothing like Six Nations Day in Cardiff, especially when England comes to the city.

Meeting an old foe takes it up a notch or two, but even without England, you simply can’t beat the Cardiff experience.

READ MORE: First Covid restrictions to be lifted in Wales

Which is why I was really, really hoping, the good of all coming first, of course, that the Principality Stadium will have a full house when Scotland comes to town in three weeks’ time, and the others of Wales For the people as well, home games against France and Italy, which everyone here will be looking forward to, will be another title decision as Van Pivac’s men defend their trophy.

You only need to look at the records of domestic and foreign sides in tournaments to know how important fans are to each team.

This applies whether it is Murrayfield, Twickenham, Dublin or the Stade de France, where I stand among players before kicking La Marseilles with over 80,000 belts. Trust me, when you are in the middle, it is really the feel of the hair on the neck. Anyone who has played in Paris knows they are up against it at the time.

I refereeed the Calcutta Cup game between Scotland and England at Murrayfield in 2018 when the noise level was unprecedented. When, about five minutes from the end, it became clear that Scotland was going to win, they went up another decibel.

Defeating England does it for the Celtic nations. Always has been, probably always will be. And, as we saw from that 2005 game when Gaw’s brilliant kick helped Mike Ruddock’s team win 11-9, that applies to Wales as much as anyone.

But to me, what really makes Cardiff stand out more than other places is that whatever the opposition, whatever the occasion, there is always something super-special about rugby games in the Welsh capital. .

Wales vs Scotland, Wales vs France, Autumn International, whatever.

I was lucky enough to referee two games on the field during the 2015 World Cup. New Zealand v France in the quarterfinals and Ireland v French again in a group decider.

Once again the atmosphere was, on each occasion, phenomenal, possibly better than anything else during that tournament?

There is something special in that stadium. On the field you just feel a part of it, with the fans so close to the pitch. But other than that there is something about Cardiff that just brings support, creates a buzz – and the same applies to opposition fans who like to walk on the ground in the city center a few hundred yards from the train station. Huh. The nearby pubs, restaurants, just savor the whole occasion.

Even people without tickets want to come to Cardiff for a day to be a part of it, something that is quite unique to us, I think.

Which is why I was somewhat concerned about the fact that there are no fans for the Six Nations in the stadium this year. Supporters make the day. Take it from me, they matter.

Gavin Henson watches Nigel Owes scoring a goal against England

Even when they’re booing you as the referee and calling you by every name under the sun! It is part and parcel of rugby.

I was in Parc and the Scarlets on New Year’s Day to do some commentary work for S4C as the Scarlets played their arch-rivals Osprey in an empty stadium in Wales due to COVID regulations.

There was just something awesome about this occasion, it didn’t feel right before, during, or after.

I saw the referee that day, Adam Jones, who had done a great job and has a very bright future ahead of him, walks out for a warm-up with his fellow officials before kick-off, or at best an echo. Cricky, I couldn’t help thinking about the time I refereeed that particular derby and how the field would already be filled by that stage – and I got boos, cheers, and sometimes even silliness when I ran out. Will be greeted with cheer!

For some of these games the Ospreys would be in fanfare with their big name Galacticos, Scarlett was also a formidable force. If the quality of rugby wasn’t exactly Test level, and could fall into standard derby matches, or indeed cup finals, when so much is at stake and no one wants to make a mistake, then the intensity was certainly of that level for you. Will see in international rugby.

He was down for the crowd; Players will respond and feed their passion. Two sets of supporters.

On this special occasion I realized that the intensity was not there. If it wasn’t like a training ground exercise, it certainly wasn’t the experience of a proper and historic big Welsh Derby showdown.

We also need fan-made buzz in the Six Nations and Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier in the week that restrictions for sporting events in Scotland had been lifted, and thus Murrayfield, it was a matter of time before a similar announcement .

Luckily it has happened.

I think people are getting frustrated, we have doubled and in fact tripled, vaccine passports. Cardiff’s economy also needs full throngs, given that rugby day in the city caters to local businesses.

Fans is the 16th person from Wales, so to speak. When the field is full they make a huge difference, not only to the Welsh players who are erupted with noise and excitement, but also to the opposition who sometimes subconsciously wonder ‘what on earth is going on here? Used to be?’

Welsh rugby has just come through a tough time, with Osprey and Cardiff being hammered by Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively last weekend, which on paper does not bode well for Scotland’s game.

But we shouldn’t read too much into this, it has happened before and we see a team from Wales, inspired by home support, raise their level to the Six Nations.

It definitely happened in 2005, didn’t it? Back to Village Kick vs England, something I got to watch closely at the time. Really close-up.

While it is natural to assume that I never experienced the Cardiff factor on Six Nations Day, due to my own refereeing duties tending to take me elsewhere, I was actually just a stone’s throw from the village because he Had his attempt by touchline that Saturday afternoon.

Me and Hugh Watkins were the fourth and fifth officers of Steve Walsh, the man in the middle, which meant we were tasked with replacements, by the time someone was in the bin for yellow card offenses, that sort of administrative. thing.

I saw the village kicking up in front of me, looked at the posts, ran it up and banged it, it took off from afar. Millennium Stadium had no roof that day, but if it were, it would have collapsed when the Touch judges raised the flag.

A victory over England, the start of a famous march towards the Grand Slam, culminated in a victory over Ireland when they believed that the streets of Cardiff were celebrating as many people as inside the stadium.

As I say there is nothing like Cardiff on rugby day, especially when Wales are winning.

Everyone looks forward to the Six Nations. Christmas is over, that January silence, but the fact that rugby’s biggest annual tournament is just around the corner keeps many people’s spirits up.

It would have been demoralizing for many people if the games were played in front of an empty stadium. Everyone’s well being should come first, but, as I say, we need to be in a position where February Wales fans are roaring at their rugby team.

This is definitely what every sports fan wants. I know I have.

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