Wales and Scotland will conclude their Guinness Six Nations campaigns when they meet in Cardiff on Saturday.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points.
The overwhelming view appears to be one of considerable surprise, especially given mass postponements and cancellations of sporting events across the world. The two other scheduled Six Nations games this weekend – France versus Ireland and Italy against England – had already been called off and look set to be rearranged for next season. More than 70,000 people will be packed into Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday, with thousands more thronging the city centre bars and restaurants, in addition to packed trains bringing spectators from all parts to the Welsh capital. It seems a strange scenario, to say the least.
It has been a testing first Six Nations campaign for new Wales head coach Wayne Pivac. The former Scarlets boss succeeded ultra-successful Warren Gatland after the World Cup and Wales have struggled to make an impact, suffering three successive Six Nations defeats for a first time since 2007. In losing to Ireland, France and England, they also conceded 84 points and 10 tries. There are signs, though, that Wales’ game is evolving under Pivac and his coaching staff and if it clicks for a whole game then it could be spectacular to watch.
âï¸ The Scotland team depart for Cardiff with additional hygiene measures in place at Edinburgh Airport. pic.twitter.com/TyskaW2Ta2— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 12, 2020
Scotland crashed out of last year’s World Cup in Japan with indecent haste. Defeats against Ireland and Japan in the pool stage meant an early flight home for head coach Gregor Townsend and his players, but the subsequent response has proved impressive. A host of missed chances, including skipper Stuart Hogg’s howler when he dropped the ball over Ireland’s line, cost Scotland in Dublin, then they pushed England close in an Edinburgh monsoon before comfortably beating Italy and then destroying France’s Grand Slam dream. Scotland have not beaten Wales in Cardiff since 2002, but they will fancy their chances this weekend.
It has been 18 years since Scotland last tasted victory on Welsh soil, claiming a 27-22 victory that featured two Gordon Bulloch tries and 14 points from Brendan Laney. But the Scots have endured a tale of woe since then, suffering eight successive Six Nations away defeats against Wales, including landslide losses of 51-3 (2014) and 34-7 (2018). They have also seen two players – Scott Murray and Stuart Hogg – sent off during Six Nations losses in Cardiff, underlining what a thoroughly miserable time it has been for them. Both teams’ current form, though, suggests the Scots could be marginal favourites in some quarters.
The head coach is full of praise for our captain, who will draw level with Richie McCaw on 148 appearances this weekend in Cardiff 🔴 Cyflawniad ar Ã´l cyflawniad gan @AlunWynJones 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/DBss1LuBDj— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 12, 2020
Wales captain Jones is viewed by many as his country’s greatest player, and he achieves a landmark feat on Saturday by equalling New Zealand World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw’s rugby union world-best of 148 international appearances. It will be 34-year-old Jones’ 139th Wales cap, plus nine Tests for the British and Irish Lions, and he is guaranteed a rapturous reception from a Principality Stadium full house. Wales face the All Blacks twice this summer, and there is every chance he could overtake McCaw at the ground where McCaw lifted the World Cup in 2011 – Eden Park, Auckland.