Sunday 18 April 2010
Blithely though the Six Nations Committee describe it as "making this great rugby occasion available to as many people as possible", it is fair to describe the shift of England's match against Wales in Cardiff to a Friday evening next year as a break with tradition. The fixture has been played 57 times in Wales since the first in Swansea in 1883, and every one of them on a Saturday. The powers-that-be are spinning faster than Spiderman on this subject, with the Welsh Rugby Union describing a 2.30pm start for their Saturday match with South Africa this June as a "crowd-pleasing kick-off time", adding that it is a "10-year anniversary" of the Millennium Stadium's inaugural fixture in June 1999 (so if 1999-2000 was the first year; 2000-01 was a one-year anniversary, right?). The numbers which will count with Wales and England supporters next February are the thousands of cars heading down the M4 in the Friday rush-hour and the blank timetables for trains from Cardiff to London after the final whistle. The unions say they need the TV money to invest in the sport, but where is the tipping point between pandering to the armchair viewer and annoying your most loyal supporters?