Rugby Union: Wales to stay home

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The Independent Online
Welsh rugby supporters will not have to commit the gross heresy of singing Land Of My Fathers at Wembley Stadium this season after all, writes Chris Hewett. The Five Nations match between Wales and England on 15 March will go ahead at the National Stadium in Cardiff, albeit with a reduced capacity of 44,000 due to extensive rebuilding work.

Welsh Rugby Union officials had resigned themselves to holding their most prized home fixture at an English venue, because the National Stadium's west stand is scheduled to be demolished in February as part of the Arms Park Millennium Stadium project for the 1999 World Cup. No other Welsh venue was considered big enough to host the match.

Yesterday, however, the ground steering committee announced that sufficient seating would be retained to allow the game to go ahead as planned. Not surprisingly, the news was well received by Terry Cobner, the Welsh coaching director, who said: "This is something that the national squad fervently hoped for. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a Wales-England game in Cardiff."

Sadly for Cobner, it is likely that Wales will have to move lock, stock and barrel to an English ground for the 1998 Five Nations. The National Stadium will close completely from May until building work is complete.