Welsh government moves all sports events behind closed doors due to Covid

Crowds banned from rugby matches in Wales

There will be no spectators at rugby matches in Wales over the festive period with new Covid restrictions to be introduced from Boxing Day.

The Welsh government is bringing in the measures, which apply to all sporting events – indoor, outdoor, professional and community, to try to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.

The Ospreys’ United Rugby Championship match against Dragons on 26 December had already been postponed due to a number of positive cases in the Ospreys set-up, but the new rules mean the other Welsh derby that day – Cardiff v Scarlets – will now be played behind closed doors.

No end date has been given for the restrictions but there are another two Welsh derbies scheduled for New Year’s Day – Dragons v Cardiff and Scarlets v Ospreys – that also look set to be played without crowds, as do the WRU Premiership matches on 27 December and 3 January.

The rules apply across sport, too, so no spectators will be allowed at grass-roots rugby matches either.

Vaughan Gething, the economy minister, said: “Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year. Unfortunately, the new Omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.

“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.

“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of Omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.

“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”

The move comes less than two months before the Six Nations is due to kick off, with Wales’ first home match at the Principality Stadium against Scotland on 12 February. Crowds are due to return for the championship after last year’s tournament was played behind closed doors but that could now be in doubt.

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