Welsh Rugby Union hopes for 10,000 at Canada and Argentina games

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chief Steve Phillips hopes 10,000 fans can attend each of Wales’ summer internationals at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Wales host Canada on 3 July and have two Test matches against Argentina on 10 and 17 July.

Phillips says the governing body hopes for confirmation on crowd numbers on 7 June.

“My hope is we can get to 10,000. What I’ve heard is it will probably be the lower of 25% or 10,000,” said Phillips.

The Welsh government has approved pilot events to test the impact of Covid-19 on returning crowds, including football matches.

No Welsh rugby teams have so far been included among those events with Wales’ four rugby regions also awaiting developments.

Phillips said: “There was 10,000 in Twickenham last weekend for both European [rugby] finals and the British and Irish Lions have got 17,000 in Murrayfield on June 26.

“England are playing the USA and Canada in July and we wait to see what they are going to have.

“Providing the Welsh government are comfortable with the Indian variant, I would be optimistic for the Wales matches against Canada and Argentina.

“We are working on who will get the tickets at the moment.

“There are a number of problems. We have got commercial partners, we’ve got debenture holders and we are going to have to find a way to deal with that.

“It will be complicated. There’s also an argument on whose [home] game is it, so we have to figure all that out and what does that mean.

“You could argue because it’s not Wales’ home game, the club entitlement to tickets isn’t there, so we will have to figure that out.

“If it’s technically an Argentinian game, do we say to Argentina, well what do you want?”

On more crowds and pilot events, a Welsh Government spokesman has said: “The First Minister has said if the public health situation remains positive, at the next three-week review at the start of June we will consider moving to alert level one, which could allow larger events and organised activities to take place, informed by the programme of pilot events, currently underway.”

Wales were due to travel to South America this summer to play Uruguay and Argentina, but the matches against the latter were switched to Cardiff because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

“We are supposed to have gone down there,” said Phillips.

“But I didn’t want our players quarantining for 10 days on the way back.

“We should have flown down there, so we’ve helped Argentina fly up here and, technically then, it’s their gate [income] and we will have to come to some sort of arrangement on that.

"You have also got television to discuss. With crowds of 10,000, I'm not even sure we'll make a profit, but I'll still do it because it's all about getting the atmosphere back.It's a start, a sign of getting back towards normality and that's more important to me than making a return on it."

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive, Steve Phillips

Phillips says ensuring coach Wayne Pivac can develop rising Welsh talent while leading stars are with the British and Irish Lions in South Africa is also a consideration.

“Wayne was very clear in saying he wanted international rugby in July. So that was the main driver.

“Wales want to play, Argentina really want to play and we were fortunate then because of the arrangement England have made with USA and Canada that we were able to play Canada.”

Original article 25.05.21 on the BBC Sport website

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