JUDGEMENT DAY at Principality Stadium has broken the Guinness PRO12 attendance record again, this time with nearly three weeks still to go until kick-off – on Saturday (Apr 30) .
Last year’s Welsh regional double-header was attended by 52,762 fans, comfortably surpassing the previous championship record, held by an Irish derby clash at the Aviva Stadium between Leinster and Munster in 2014.
The annual event, now in its fourth incarnation, more than doubles nearly every other attendance figure in Guinness PRO12 fixture list so far this season and has been tipped to become a must-see capacity occasion in the Cardiff capital by Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies.
With the 52,763rd ticket sold by the Principality Stadium ticket office this morning, the only comparable fixture to Judgement Day this year, to date, is again the Munster versus Leinster derby which attracted 43,108 to the Aviva at the start of this month.
The celebration derby day in Wales, dubbed JDIV, will see Cardiff Blues face the Ospreys at 2.30pm and then European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-finalists Newport Gwent Dragons host the Scarlets at 5pm in back-to-back clashes under the Principality Stadium’s famous roof – in the penultimate round (21) of the Guinness PRO12.
The Blues and Ospreys are both still vying for a play-off spot this season, currently lying 10 and 14 points, respectively, behind the fourth placed Scarlets – with 15 points from three bonus point wins still theoretically available.
The all-important top six spots in the table – which would at present reading bring qualification for the 2016/2017 European Champions Cup – are also within touching distance for each side, as they are currently lying in eighth and ninth places.
Both of these teams will desperately want to beat their close rivals as the business end of the season reaches its climax, after first facing Benetton Treviso (Ospreys) and the Dragons (Blues) at home matches in round 20 this coming weekend.
For the JDIV game one victors it could then be ‘all on’ for round 22, the final weekend of the season, prior to play-offs, when the Blues travel to Edinburgh and the Ospreys host Ulster.
The Scarlets are currently the highest placed Welsh team in the Guinness PRO12 table, but they also have a tough run-in hosting Glasgow and travelling to Munster either side of their JDIV, match two, meeting with the Dragons.
The Newport Gwent region are mathematically out of play-off contention and can’t finish in the top seven, but a strong run in Europe is keeping their season alive in style – they face Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals the week preceding JDIV.
The Dragons could qualify for the European Champions Cup outright if they win its sister tournament and so would be forgiven for keeping one eye on that campaign, but derby bragging rights remain at stake as always on Judgement Day to ensure them no respite.
“Last year’s Judgement Day fixtures saw us process thousands of tickets on the day of the event and we fully expect a large walk-up crowd at Principality Stadium for another guaranteed record breaking day this year,” said a WRU spokesperson.
“It will be a proud moment when during the second match of the day we announce our final crowd figure and set another new record for attendance at a Guinness PRO12 match-day.
“But, whilst it is great news for us at the turn-styles that we get so many last minute purchasers for this celebration of regional rugby, we would like to remind people that buying tickets in advance is the best way to ensure they get the seats they want and don’t miss out on any of the action.
“We will continue to monitor sales and keep the public up to date as we near capacity, but the best way to ensure that you don’t miss out on a magnificent day of regional rugby at Principality Stadium is to buy now and join the 53,000 others who have already joined Judgement Day celebrations.”
Commenting on the record-breaking crowd, Martin Anayi, managing director, PRO12 Rugby said:
“Judgement Day has become one of the Guinness PRO12’s ‘must-go-to’ events and it is terrific news that with three weeks to go until the event the previous attendance record has been broken.
“With over 28,000 recently attending the Guinness PRO12 derbies in Wales; over 43,000 flocking to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium for Leinster against Munster; and the climax to the season, the Guinness PRO12 Final at BT Murrayfield on 28 May, already on course to be one of the biggest finals ever; it shows there is a huge appetite and opportunity for fans to be part of some great Guinness PRO12 occasions over the last two months of the season.”
Mark Davies, Chief Executive of Pro Rugby Wales said: “It’s very positive for Welsh Rugby and Guinness PRO12 that this major club rugby event in our season is building so successfully and that we’ll exceed last year’s record crowd at the Principality Stadium.
“The Judgement Day double-header will be a fantastic conclusion to a successful series of Welsh derbies over the past month that have captured the spirit and passion of Welsh rugby – with supporters looking forward to another big derby this Sunday at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park as the Cardiff Blues face the Newport Gwent Dragons.
“It’s one of most exciting and significant periods we’ve ever had in a block for professional rugby in Wales with potentially 100,000 supporters enjoying Welsh derbies over a six week period at such a critical stage in the Guinness PRO12 battle for our teams.
“There’s so much riding on these games and with it the chance to see our best players in Wales both current internationals and future stars playing on the same pitch on the same day.”
Tickets for Judgement Day IV have been frozen at 2015 prices and can be purchased now at £10 per person (booking fees apply) from www.wru.wales/tickets (print at home available), by calling 0844 847 1881, in person from the WRU Ticket Office on Westgate Street, from each of the four regions or from Tesco stores throughout Wales.
Season tickets purchased from either of the home teams – Blues and Dragons – include access to Judgement Day IV, with fans asked to liaise with the respective box offices.
Both matches will be shown live on television with BBC Wales showing the first match and S4C the second.
Talybont stun leaders Aberaeron
HAVING beaten Aberystwyth the previous week, Talybont produced another excellent display as they beat leaders Aberaeron by 24 runs on Sunday (Jul 15).
Talybont won the toss and elected to bat first, making 204-6 from their 30 overs.
They made a steady start with Ben Harper scoring 24 before he was caught by Josh Roper off the bowling of Paul Hughes.
Hughes then trapped Barrow leg before for a duck and he later removed Josheff Joshi who was bowled on a score of 38.
Vinod Matthew added 28 to the score before he was bowled by Sion Lewis and Tibby Joseph scored 20 before being bowled by David Grinszpan.
Philip Abraham was the star of the show for Talybont as he hit 62 before being caught by Fice off the bowling of Lewis.
Sojan Varghese and Matthew Novak then finished unbeaten to take Talybont to their total.
Aberaeron then lost Grinszpan early on in their reply when he was bowled by Abraham on a score of five.
Fice and Chris Strange set Aber on their way with a good stand before Fice was also bowled by Abraham on a score of 26.
Strange hit five fours and two sixes in a score of 38 before he was bowled by Josheff Joshi.
Joshi then had Alexander Pitchford caught for a duck before Barrow bowled Steff Rees for a score of 47 which included two fours and two sixes.
Neil Snowdon hit 32 before he was bowled by Barrow and Josh Roper only scored 7 before being bowled by Tibby Joseph.
Barrow took further wickets of Jenkinson and Paul Hughes while Joseph took the wicket of Louis Fice.
That meant that Aberaeron were all out for 180 and it means Talybont close the gap to leaders to just six points.
Aber Seconds earn first win
Also on Sunday, Aberystwyth Seconds earned their first win of the season as they beat Tywyn and District by six wickets.
Tywyn won the toss and elected to bat but were all out for 126. They lost openers Callum Taylor to the bowling of Emlyn Mainwearing and Richard Rees to the bowling of Jamie Holder as they slipped to 7-2.
James Bradbury-Willis and Jack Morris then added another 25 runs before Morris was bowled by Mainwearing for a score of 25.
Bradbury-Willis then shared another 30 runs with Dave Jenkins before the former was caught by Rob Rudge off the bowling of Holders for a score of 16.
Ed Iffla was bowled by Zaid Khan and Dave Jenkins scored 21 before he was caught by Mainwearing off the bowling of Bryn Morris.
Morris also bowled Matthew Maslin and Zaid Khan also knocked the stumps over to remove Niki Williams.
Ioan Morris took the wicket of Ed Hughes who scored 10 and Titus Mathew bowled Gary Furneaux for a duck to bring the innings to a close.
Sam Williams finished the innings not out on 26 as he ran out of partners.
Aber lost Anthony Burrell early in their reply when he was caught by Niki Williams off the bowling of Richard Rees.
Ioan Morris fell to the same bowler when he was caught by Dave Jenkins for a score of 4, leaving Aber on 26-2.
Robin Varley then shared 45 runs with Iestyn Evans as they edged towards victory. Dave Jenkins broke that partnership when he had Varley caught by Rees on a score of 40.
Jenkins also had Zaid Khan caught by Matthew Maslin but that was as good as it got for Tywyn.
Rob Rudge finished not out on 15 while Iestyn Evans was not out on 48 as Aber reached their target inside 34 overs.
Mathew stars as Aber stun Commoners
On Saturday (Jul 14), 13 Year-old Titus Mathew took the last four Commoners’ wickets in four consecutive deliveries to set Aber on their way to victory.
Mathew’s late show meant the Commoners were all out for 101 and Aber reached that with plenty of time to spare.
Zaid Khan made the breakthrough when he bowled Rakesh Bhatia for a duck and Neil Stent made 11 before he was caught by Ted Trewella off the bowling of Tom Constantine and the Commoners slipped to 32-2.
Ravi Mander then shared 57 runs with Jacob Hughes-Pickering for the third wicket but that was brought to an end when Gareth Lewis had Hughes-Pickering caught by Rob Rudge on a score of 23.
Lewis then bowled Will Copeland and had Richard Lucas caught by Khan for a score of 5 as the Commoners’ innings collapsed.
Mathew then took over as he bowled Jan Ruzicka and Chris Ward and he claimed his hat trick when he had Devon Simmons caught by Rudge.
He wasn’t done there as he took the final wicket to bring the Commoners’ innings to a close.
That left Ravi Mander not out on 53 but it wasn’t enough to stop Aber from taking victory.
Aber did lose Ted Trewella early on when he was caught by Stent off the bowling of Rakesh Bhatia for a duck.
Chris Ward then bowled Dafydd Jones for a score of 5 and Nigel Salmon then hit the ball straight back to Bhatia as the Commoners picked up their third wicket.
However, they were unable to take any more as Zaid Khan finished not out on 40 (7 fours) and Mark Evans finished not out on 45 (6 fours, 1 six) to see Aber over the line.
On Saturday (Jul 21), Talybont are at home to Aberystwyth Seconds while UWA Commoners are at home to Aberaeron.
On Sunday (Jul 22), Aberystwyth are at home as they take on Tywyn and District.
New Quay appeal for players
NEW Quay Football Club are appealing for players to join them in a bid to ensure football has a future in the community.
The Club was in a similar situation a few years ago and a similar appeal helped to keep them going for another two seasons.
Now, the Ceredigion League Club have put out another request asking for anyone who may have an interest in football to consider joining the team.
In a post on Twitter, New Quay Football Club manager Charles Lloyd Harvey said: “Two years ago I made an appeal for new players as we were suffering a player shortage and faced the prospect of not having any registered football teams in New Quay for the first time in the clubs extremely long and proud history.
“The response to the appeal was fantastic with players old and new vowing to step in as much as they could, securing the clubs short term future.
“It is because of this community effort that we have been able to limp on for two more seasons.
“Well, here I am again, two years later, making another appeal for players as we once again face a critical shortage and the possible end of senior football at New Quay FC.
“If you, or anyone you know, is interested in joining New Quay FC for the coming season, get in touch. Or come along to our pre-season training sessions every Wednesday at the football pitch in New Quay, 6:30pm-7:30pm.
“Young (15+), old, from the area, not from the area, played for another team last year, played for us last year, anyone with an interest in joining the club and helping to secure its future will be welcomed with open arms.
“Please help us keep New Quay FC going and ensure football has a future in our community.”
Anyone wishing to get involved can do so by contacting New Quay FC on their Twitter page.
Shock results in West Wales Conference
THERE were more surprise results in the West Wales Conference last weekend as Aberystwyth slipped to defeat against Talybont while UWA Commoners were also beaten by Tywyn and District.
The weekend’s other result saw Aberaeron extend their lead at the top of the table with victory over Aberystwyth Seconds.
On Sunday (Jul 8), Aberystwyth batted first against Talybont and made a good total of 219-7 from their 40 overs.
Aber lost opener Zaid Khan early on when he was caught by Sojan Varghese off the bowling of Philip Abraham for a score of 9 and Nigel Salmon made 8 before being caught by Abraham off the bowling of Josheff Joshi.
Abraham then trapped Ted Trewella leg before and also bowled Johnny Cordy for a duck. Ioan Morris made 10 but he was also bowled by Anish Kuriakose who later bowled Iestyn Evans for a score of 1.
Rhodri Price batted well at the top of the order as he made 69 before being caught by Abraham off the bowling of Dave Barrow.
Rob Rudge and Ifan Thomas then took Aber past 200 runs with the pair finishing unbeaten on scores of 50 and 31 respectively.
Talybont made a steady start in their reply with Dave Barrow scoring 20 before being caught and bowled by Zaid Khan.
Vinod Matthew made 36 before being caught by Iestyn Evans off the bowling of Nigel Salmon. The runs kept flowing as Josheff Joshi made 44 but he was then caught by Rob Rudge off the bowling of Rhodri Price.
Sojan Varghese was run out by Zaid Khan for a score of 1 and Graison John departed on the same score when he fell to the bowling of Salmon.
Anish Kuriakose then made 14 before being trapped leg before by Salmon.
Phil Abraham had been the mainstay of the innings with a score of 62 but he was eventually removed when Zaid Khan dismantled the stumps.
That left Huw Chambers at the crease and he finished not out on 15 to guide Talybont to victory.
Tywyn earn second win despite Bhatia century
Sunday’s other game produced the second shock result of the weekend as Tywyn and District earned just their second win of the season with victory over second placed UWA Commoners.
This game was a real high scoring encounter with Tywyn posting 292-7 from their 40 overs.
Richard Rees was trapped leg before by Guy Baron early on for a score of 21 but an excellent partnership between Callum Taylor and James Bradbury-Willis followed.
Bradbury-Willis hit six fours and a six in a score of 62 but he was then caught by Jacob Hughes-Pickering off the bowling of Rakesh Bhatia.
Runs continued to flow as Ed Iffla hit eight fours in a score of 41 before he was bowled by Umar Aslam.
Taylor made an excellent century with 18 fours and three sixes, scoring 107 before he was caught by Will Copeland off the bowling of Bhatia.
That did not stop the flow of runs as Dave Jenkins hit five fours and a six as he added 52 runs to the total.
The Commoners hit back late on as Bhatia had Jack Williamson caught by Neil Stent and Matthew Maslin caught by Ravi Mander.
They knew they would then need to bat well to reach their target and the made a good start to their reply.
Neil Stent made 16 before being bowled by Richard Rees and Ravi Mander scored 19 before he was caught by Callum Taylor off the bowling of Rees.
Umar Aslam was run out by Rees on a score of 7 as wickets continued to fall.
Rakesh Bhatia made his way to a half century but then saw Jacob Hughes-Pickering caught by Taylor off the bowling of Jenkins for a score of 20.
Will Copeland scored a quickfire 14 with two fours and a six but he was out to the bowling of Jenkins and Richard Lucas was then bowled by Taylor. Guy Baron scored 16 but he was then run out by Taylor.
Bhatia was the undoubted star of the innings as he made his way to remarkable score of 162 with twenty fours and eight sixes. He was then caught by Jack Williamson off the bowling of Taylor.
With that wicket, the Commoners’ hopes faded and they finished all out on 282, just ten runs short of victory.
Aberaeron ease past Seconds
Saturday’s (Jul 7) game was more straightforward as league leaders Aberaeron earned a ten-wicket win over Aber Seconds.
The Seconds won the toss and chose to bat but they were all out for 107 as Hywel Rees and Sion Lewis both took three wickets.
Ted Trewella was the first to fall when he was caught off the bowling of Simon Mitchell for a duck and he also then bowled Jack Page for a duck.
Dafydd Jones and Zaid Khan offered some resistance but both fell victim to Rees who had them caught by Louis Fice and Chris Strange for scores of 18 and 21 respectively.
Rees then claimed his third wicket as he had Alwyn Davies caught by Neil Snowdon for a score of 8.
Steff Rees then joined in on the action as he had Owen Keyworth caught by Mitchell for a score of 11.
Ioan Morris also offered late resistance with a score of 23 but he was then bowled by Sion Lewis. Steffan Davies was then bowled by Paul Hughes and Tomos Williams fell in the same manner to Lewis.
Lewis then had Bryn Morris stumped by Fice as the Seconds’ innings came to a close.
Aberaeron’s openers J Fice and David Grinszpan were then untroubled in their reply as they guided their side to a comfortable win.
Grinszpan was not out on 46 with seven fours while Fice hit ten fours as he finished unbeaten on 52.
On Saturday (Jul 14), two teams that lost last weekend will be in action as Aberystwyth play host to the UWA Commoners.
On Sunday (Jul 15), Talybont face league leaders Aberaeron and Tywyn & District will be looking for another win when they take on Aberystwyth Seconds.
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