There has been much commentary in relation to the men’s Autumn Series fixtures. The reality is we continue to juggle a number of unknowns. Whilst we expect to replay our postponed Guinness Six Nations 2020 fixture with Scotland, the competition format and opposition for additional autumn games are yet to be agreed. We hope for news on these fixtures in the coming weeks, but in the meantime have initiated a process to provide refund, credit or donate options to all existing ticket holders for the Scotland game – more details of which can be found below.
What is certain is that we will not be playing any home games at Principality Stadium.
Our decision to step in to provide a location for a surge hospital at the height of the pandemic, along with the scale of the investment to construct the Dragon’s Heart hospital in the Stadium, has meant that we have agreed in principle to extend the hospital until the autumn. We have yet to finalise a contract on the extension, as, this time, it is a little more complex and there are a number of circumstances that need to be covered. We hope to sign the contract shortly.
Assuming games are staged this autumn, if restrictions mean that we are playing behind closed doors those games are likely to be staged in Wales and we are exploring a range of options. If the games can be staged with crowds in some form those games are likely to be in and around London and, again, we are exploring a range of options. The most difficult scenario will be if games are allowed with crowds in England but not in Wales. There are clearly a range of risks here not least Welsh fans leaving Wales to attend a game and then returning. Clearly this risk also occurs for away games. We very much hope that by the autumn, restrictions whatever they be in relation to sports events, are aligned across the UK.
On a more optimistic footing, we plan to be back playing at the Principality Stadium, hopefully in front of full crowds against England and Ireland in the Guinness Six Nations in February 2021.
In relation to the Community game, I wanted to thank the team at the WRU for mobilising quickly as restrictions relating to the Community game evolved quickly over the past few weeks. We have published new guidance and scheduled a range of webinars which have been well attended. Inevitably circumstances will evolve further in the coming months as we navigate a return to training, clubhouses and ultimately playing.
In terms of other Stadium events, 2021 has the potential to very busy as promoters and acts look to return the stage after 2020 was wiped out for large events. We also hope to have our Westgate Hotel open during the second part of next year. We have inevitably experienced delays but I’m pleased to say these have thus far been kept to a minimum and we are looking forward to adding the hotel to the event day experience at the Stadium.
Finally looking to next summer it was positive to be able to confirm that the British and Irish Lions tour will go ahead as planned in July and August next summer. With our Welsh Regions back in action in August, I hope that those games kick start the season that for some will culminate in pulling on the famous red jersey in a Lions test match in South Africa. There is much to look forward to.