Gatland wants Wales to raise a closed roof

 

Warren Gatland doesn't want anything raining on Wales's Grand Slam parade – least of all the rain. With comments which may incense Philippe Saint-André, he all but accused the French coach of being negative and called for the authorities to take away the right of visiting teams to keep the Millennium Stadium roof open.

As he named an expected XV to try for a third Six Nations sweep in eight seasons, Gatland made no secret of his distaste for Saint-André's preference for tomorrow's match. It is the first time France have ever made such a request.

"It'll be OK if it's a nice day, won't it?" said Gatland, aware that the French also knew that the forecast is for the opposite. "I would hate to think that it will be pouring down and that we had the chance to close the roof. Potentially, it makes a game less open or less attractive... We all have a responsibility not just to broadcasters but to the public and the game as a whole to make it as attractive as possible."

The current Six Nations arrangement is that both teams have to be in agreement for the roof to be closed. If one team wants it open, so it is. Gatland wants this changed.

"I think it is something that maybe as a Welsh Union we need to make some sort of representation to the IRB. If it is our stadium and we've got the ability to open and close the roof, then maybe we should be the team that decides it."

He then lightened the mood with a wisecrack. "I do hope we don't close the roof on Friday night and then it breaks down on Saturday and we can't open it."

Gatland pointed to Saint-André's selection as evidence of his intention. The former Gloucester and Sale coach made five changes plus one positional switch, to the wing for the centre Wesley Fofana.

"I just think they've picked a very old, tough forward pack," he said. "They are going to come and be very, very physical. It's not going to be pretty.

"Having coached against Philippe in the past in the Premiership, he is relatively conservative. He is very pragmatic in terms of set pieces and big physical players. I don't think he will care too much about what type of rugby they play – his whole focus is trying to win the match."

Mike Phillips, the scrum-half who plays for Bayonne, concurred. "They kick the ball a lot tactically anyway," he said. "But maybe they are fearful of our attacking threat."

Wales have scored nine tries – all by the back line. A firm surface would suit their style as they target a second Grand Slam of Gatland's four-year reign. With Ladbrokes quoting Wales at 1-200 to win the Six Nations title the focus must clearly be on the win and not on the table. France have won five Six Nations matches in Cardiff and lost once.

"France are a good side, one of the top teams in the world," said Gatland, who made only one alteration to his side, reinstating his fit-again captain, Sam Warburton. "We've had a couple of close games against them and have contributed to our own downfall with a couple of interception tries, a couple of yellow cards, a turnover and a charge-down. So we know we have to be accurate. Yet France can't win the championship and there's a lot more for us to play for mentally. Maybe that will be the difference.

"It's not easy to win Grand Slams," he added. "If you think how dominant England have been since the start of professionalism – and they only won one Grand Slam, in 2003. That shows how difficult it is. But we've given ourselves an opportunity for three players in the squad [Gethink Jenkins, Adam Jones and Ryan Jones] to be a part of three Grand Slam winning teams. And that would be fantastic achievement."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
All British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game