Rugby supporters heading to Principality Stadium for the NatWest Six Nations opening round clash between Wales and Scotland have been warned they risk missing kick-off if they do not heed warnings to “get in early”.
New security measures have been in place at the Cardiff capital ground since the conclusion of last year’s tournament and the first rugby games played under strict search and safety procedures – in the autumn – produced some problems as supporters were implored to change their arrival habits.
When Wales faced Australia on the first weekend in November some supporters missed kick-off as increased security slowed access for each individual into the ground.
By the time New Zealand travelled to Cardiff for a capacity occasion a fortnight later Welsh rugby supporters had responded to Principality Stadium pleas in enough numbers to ensure no one missed a pass, kick or tackle, with all fans seated in time for the famous pre-game Haka from the visitors.
But the Scottish game brings a new dimension to the issues experienced in the autumn – a different crowd may not be aware of the need to arrive early and, perhaps most significantly, the game kicks-off at 2.15pm and so represents the first sold-out early afternoon kick-off rugby international under the new restrictions.
Gates now open at the Principality Stadium at 11.15am, which is three hours before kick-off – giving double the lead-in time to previous Six Nations matches – with event organisers urging supporters:
“The earlier you arrive, the quicker you’ll get in. Gates open at 11.5am… please get in early,” said Principality Stadium manager Mark Williams.
“A classic Wales match will once again be shown as live on the big screens before kick-off to supplement the entertainment available to supporters around the concourses.
“During the autumn series the draw of showing support to the team during their official warm-up was also mutually appreciated by the players and fans alike.”
The sole intent of the enhanced checks is to maintain safety and security for fans attending the stadium, taking into account the current security climate and more specifically UK terror threat levels.”
South Wales Police stress there is no specific threat to Cardiff. Principality Stadium routinely works very closely with the Police and the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit to deliver appropriate security measures for all major events.