What’s The Big Deal About The Roof Being Closed Or Not At The Principality?
It was confirmed earlier today that the roof will be closed at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff for Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Wales tomorrow.
Ireland’s coaching staff have agreed to the Welsh request to have the roof shut. Both teams must agree to close the roof, otherwise it stays open.
Wales assistant coach Robyn McBride confirmed the news today that Ireland had agreed with Wales’ preference.
“The roof will be staying closed”, he said.
“Ireland are more than happy to go with it being closed.
“That’s great and will make it more of an occasion.
“It’s great for the supporters and the crowd.”
So what’s the big deal about the roof being closed or not? Let’s take a look.
Why do Wales prefer to close the roof?
Because they say protecting the game from the elements makes for better rugby. It makes for a less slippy and unpredictable game, away from the wind and rain.
Why do they really want it closed?
Because ‘better rugby’ should magnify their home advantage, maybe turning three-try wins into four-try wins, grabbing a bonus point. The introduction of the bonus point system to the Six Nations has brought the issue to a head for the Welsh powers that be.
They won’t win all their games, but in the ones they dominate, they should get better results. And they should dominate more games at home than they do.
Why do other teams usually want it open?
Mainly because Wales want it closed.
How much home advantage does it add?
Tough to say. It makes for a louder encounter, but players can react differently to that. In a relatively high pressure game like Friday against Ireland, when a loss would be a setback for Welsh World Cup ambitions, it could be unwelcome extra pressure.
Also, it can get so loud players have complained that calls and communication become difficult. That goes for the home side too. So if it’s a close game, Wales would probably not be happy with the noise either.
But surely Wales should have bigger things on their minds?
This game is pretty important for Wales. They haven’t lost 3 games in the Six Nations since 2010. And with a trip to France ahead of them they could actually be facing 4 losses this year, if Ireland wins on Friday.
But more importantly the loss could send them out of the top 8 at the most unfortunate time- when Rugby World Cup seedings are being decided.
Is it all Scotland’s fault?
Yes. Not only have they made it harder for other teams to win games this year, they’re also climbing the world rankings, pushing Wales down. But it should also be said that other teams aren’t particularly happy about this either. A Rugby World Cup group with Wales as the third seeds is appealing to no one. Just ask England, who failed to get out of their group, in their own World Cup in 2015, because Wales were lumped in with them and Australia.
Is talk of the roof just a mind game?
Mainly yes. When Wales say they want to close the roof it’s a statement of intent: they’re going to swallow up their opponents, and nobody will hear them scream, over the choir singers from the valleys.
But the mind game is in saying they want to close the roof. The mind game is in ratcheting up the tension until the eve of the game.
Should Wales fans want the rules changed so the roof is always closed?
Wales need to decide what is more valuable, the advantage of the roof being closed, or the annual mind games about wanting the roof to be closed. If it’s closed the mind game ends. The question about whether or not to close the roof is the main advantage the roof gives.
So should other countries care?
Probably not. Removing the distraction of the roof concentrates minds on the task at hand. Playing Wales in the Principality stadium is rarely going to be easy anyway, but there’s no real evidence that the roof makes it harder.
In fact, this weekend, ‘perfect’ conditions might suit Ireland better. Ireland have gone about their business and seemingly taken the sting out of the aura by straight out agreeing to close the roof. Whether or not it makes a difference, we’ll just have to wait and see.