The Principality Stadium in Cardiff is the only ground in the Six Nations that has a retractable roof installed – but are matches better with it open or closed?
For rugby fans around the world, there are few atmospheres that compare to a capacity Principality Stadium with the roof closed.
But despite being the third largest stadium in the world with a retractable roof by capacity – and the first of its kind in the UK – it is always a controversial matter when the roof is used, due to the conditions that must be met for it to be rolled out.
For Six Nations games held at the stadium in Cardiff, both of the competing sides must agree on whether they want it closed or not, and this can cause tension before the game has even kicked off or a fan has stepped into the ground.
With the roof closed, the noise of the maximum seated capacity of 73,931 fans is deafening, with former England flanker James Haskell describing it as “oppressive” in 2015.
He told WalesOnline: “If the roof is closed and you’re ten metres from the Welsh line, or they’re ten metres from your line, the noise becomes so oppressive it’s like a force on top of you.”
But during this year’s Six Nations tournament, Andy Farrell told The 42 that he requested it to be closed for Ireland’s Round 1 clash with the Welsh.
“We’ve been there before when it’s closed and there’s no atmosphere like it. It’s fantastic,” he said.
“We wanted it closed as well to sample the atmosphere.”
Is the Principality Stadium roof closed?
On Saturday, the Principality Stadium will host the monumental fixture that is Wales vs England in Round 3 of the 2023 Six Nations.
But on this occasion the roof will be open at England’s request, although the forecast for Saturday afternoon in Cardiff is cloudy with no rain expected.
In 2019 when Ireland requested the roof to be open despite a poor forecast, Wales head coach Warren Gatland famously said: “It’s our stadium and we should be able to do what we want with it.”
And while the Welsh preference is usually for the roof to be closed to create a cauldron-like atmosphere, on this occasion they will have to compromise.
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