Friday night under the Principality lights. As deafening Six Nations atmospheres go there is no better setting in world rugby.
On Friday night France will arrive full of confidence to the Principality Stadium two wins away from a Grand Slam. This stadium, however, creates special memories.
Here is a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the Principality Stadium.
Wales 32 Ireland 30 – 2005 Wales win stunner in Cardiff
“Not a classic but a thriller” is how Eddie Butler described it on commentary as Mike Ruddock’s men lifted the Grand Slam title for the first time since 1978.
A historic day that will be engraved forever in Welsh rugby history. Wales looked to be coasting to victory as they went 29-6 up but Ireland responded with three quick tries to serve up a nervy ending.
It was the trusty boot of Stephen Jones that ensured Wales had the last laugh. Ruddock on a recent episode of The Telf Rugby Podcast described what the Irish staff said to him post-game.
“What normally would have taken them a 10-minute drive [to the stadium] took them 45 minutes the feeling they said was – How are we going to win when we are taking on not just the Welsh team but the whole nation?” he told the podcast.
“It was a very powerful force that day it was unbelievable.”
Wales 31 Scotland 24 – classic Celtic clash
In terms of classics, this game is right up there.
First-half tries from John Barclay and Max Evans looked to have put Scotland well in control. On course for a first win since 2002 in Cardiff, Scotland ended the game with 13 men and conceded two tries and a penalty. All in the final five minutes blowing a 10-point lead.
A try from Leigh Halfpenny followed by a penalty by Jones levelled up the game. Then Shane Williams stole the victory in stoppage time.
A finish that is very unlikely to be seen again..
Principality Stadium thrillers
Wales 30 England 3 – 2013 ‘huge win at Principality’
In 2013 England headed to the Millennium Stadium with a Grand Slam in their sight.
Wales required a 7-point win to retain the title and didn’t just achieve this but smashed it. This ended up being the biggest win over England in Welsh rugby history. Two tries came from Alex Cuthbert, who nine years on will be looking to create more fond memories as he returns to the Principality stadium.
The knock-on effect was the majority of the Welsh squad headed on the 2013 Lions tour leaving England to rue their missed opportunity.
Wales 25 Ireland 7 – 2019 delight
One of the most complete Welsh performances in recent history. Unlike 2005 when there was a nervy finish Warren Gatland’s side produced a masterful display.
A first-half try from Hadleigh Parkes and the boot of Gareth Anscombe ensured Joe Schmidt’s Ireland were on the receiving end of a Grand Slam hammering. Jordan Larmour did score a consolation try in the dying minutes for Ireland but that is all it was – a consolation.
Ireland had been the dominant team in world rugby up until the 2019 Six Nations. The game marked the beginning of a difficult year for the men in green. In comparison, Gatland finished with a Grand Slam in his final Six Nations.
Not really a surprise when you look back on it.
Wales 29 France 12 – 2008 rebuilding the national team
A topical one to finish win as Wales won their first Grand Slam under Gatland.
France in 2008 had only lost to England so arrived in Wales with plenty to play for needing a 20-point win to steal the title of Wales.
In a close game, Shane Williams got the crucial score on 60 minutes as he became his country’s leading try scorer. His name’s sake Martin Williams also crossed the whitewash.
Between the boots of James Hook and Stephen Jones, Wales ensured France would not be spoiling the party. As it would become clear, Gatland started transforming an underperforming Wales XV, coming out of the ashes from the disappointment of the 2007 RWC.
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