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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor