Welsh rugby confirm Judgement Day to return in April
Millennium Stadium to host third iteration of Welsh rugby double-header showcase as regions sign up for six years
The Welsh Rugby Union has confirmed that the regional rugby double-header will return for a third year on Saturday 25 April 2015.
Dubbed “Judgement Day III”, the event at the Millennium Stadium will see Cardiff Blues host the Ospreys at 14:30 followed by Newport Gwent Dragons taking on the Scarlets at 16:45 in a back-to-back contest of East vs West.
Judgement Day III will see all the best players in Wales under one roof and both games should be fantastic spectacles…I hope fans from all four regions get right behind it and come to the Millennium Stadium in big numbers.
The event has brought together more than 30,000 regional rugby supporters for the corresponding events in the last two seasons, but the WRU and regions hope a reduction in ticket prices to £10 will encourage even more fans to flock to the home of Welsh rugby to see all four regions in Guinness PRO12 action.
With the Blues and Dragons again giving up the right to play at their home grounds to move the match to the Millennium Stadium, their season ticket holders will continue to enjoy free entry.
It will be a first taste of Judgement Day for Blues director of rugby Mark Hammett and the New Zealander has urged all Welsh rugby fans to attend the double-header.
“Judgement Day III will see all the best players in Wales under one roof and both games should be fantastic spectacles,” Hammett said.
“I really enjoyed the festive derby games between the regions where we saw big crowds and games full of passion and intensity.
“I’ve been told Judgement Day is a truly memorable occasion in the rugby calendar in Wales with a double-header of big games.
“I hope fans from all four regions get right behind it and come to the Millennium Stadium in big numbers.”
The event, which will also be supported by Wales’ TV broadcast partners with BBC Wales televising the first match and Welsh language channel S4C screening the second match, came under criticism for being on Easter Sunday last season.
It really is a great showcase for both the fans and the players and I am sure that everyone involved with the Dragons is looking forward to it.
As a result, the attendance slipped from 36,174 in year one to 30,411, with many fans unable to make the trip to Cardiff because of other commitments, while a lack of public transport in many parts of the country also hampered supporters wanting to attend.
All four matches at the event so far have been close encounters with the biggest winning margin being just 10 points.
The Ospreys are the only region to win both of their Judgement Day matches at the Millennium Stadium as Steve Tandy’s men defeated the Blues 23-16 in 2013 and the Dragons 20-10 last year.
After defeating the Dragons 28-20 in 2013, the Scarlets were defeated 17-13 by the Blues last year.
Despite losing twice at the Millennium Stadium, Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones believes the event is deeply important to the region’s players and supporters.
“I am sure that playing at the Millennium Stadium is an ambition for many young Welsh players, so Judgement Day is a great opportunity to fulfil that ambition whilst playing for their region,” Jones said.
“These players will play in front of a great crowd in what is an important fixture which everyone wants to win.
“It really is a great showcase for both the fans and the players and I am sure that everyone involved with the Dragons is looking forward to it.”
The event has yet to attract the numbers that are enjoyed by English clubs for their big matches at Twickenham or Wembley Stadium, but there is a desire from powerbrokers to grow the event.
That desire is underpinned by the decision to commit to it for at least six years alongside the historic Rugby Services Agreement signed last year, while the introduction of national dual contracts to keep the best young Welsh talent in Wales should add to the prestige of the event in the PRO12 calendar.
“The event already has a magnificent following amongst Welsh rugby fans and the experiment of 2013 has been more than vindicated by the attendances and the also the standard of rugby on show each years,” said WRU chief executive Roger Lewis.
“But now we have been able to bring another important and attractive factor into play, for this year only, tickets will be at the incredible price of just £10 per head.
“The fans can also be assured that this fixture will take pride of place in our sporting calendar at least until the year 2020.
“Judgement Day has all the ingredients now to grow and grow, it is a hot ticket for any rugby-loving fan in terms of the action and drama that will be played out on the pitch and the spectator experience we are able to offer at the Millennium Stadium.”