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Samson puts his weight behind ‘Don’t miss kick off’ guidelines

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WALES international Samson Lee has delivered a personal reminder to rugby supporters to arrive at Principality Stadium early to avoid missing the kick off when the Under Armour Series gets underway against Australia tomorrow, Saturday, November 11 (5.15pm).

Due to enhanced security at the venue, Principality Stadium will open three hours before matches kick off against the Wallabies, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa at the home of Welsh rugby – instead of the 90 minutes Welsh rugby-goers will be used to.

The latest security measures also include 100% personal checks at the turnstiles and advice to leave large bags and large umbrellas at home, to avoid disappointment and causing further delay to fellow supporters entering the stadium.

As a bumper crowd is expected this autumn, the WRU has called on the Scarlets prop help tackle the safety and security messaging for the iconic rugby venue, with a WRUTV spoof to remind fans to plan their travel and arrival at the stadium in advance.

The self-acclaimed ‘Brad Pitt in the making’ stayed behind after training to act out scenes filmed at the team hotel and the national stadium to show supporters that poor planning ahead of match day now comes with the genuine risk of missing kick off.

The budding WRUTV star said: “As a squad we are used to working to a strict schedule where everything from our eating, sleeping, training, kit and transport is planned out to ensure the very best preparation for international matches. The filming for the ‘Don’t miss kick off’ video has really hit home how well prepared we are as a team but also shows the consequences associated with lack of proper planning.

“With the enhanced security measures we are becoming accustomed to in the UK, this is an important message for anyone with tickets for the Under Armour Series and supporters need to arrive early for the 100% search regimes, or, like me in the film, they risk missing kick off!

“Ask any player and they will tell you the best feeling in the world is hearing the roar of the stadium crowd during the anthems. We want every single fan in their seats for the start of the match and I really hope this film raises awareness and motivates our supporters to plan ahead this autumn, as well as being a bit of fun!”

While South Wales Police stress there is no specific threat to Cardiff, Principality Stadium routinely works closely with the Police and the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit to deliver appropriate security measures for major events.

Stadium Manager Mark Williams added: “The safety and enjoyment of supporters on matchday is our top priority and so we have increased the gate opening hours to three hours before kick-off for the autumn international matches.

“This will allow a capacity crowd to pass through the enhanced security checks safely and in plenty of time to enjoy the games and the renowned pre-match build up at Principality Stadium.

“We strongly urge fans to assist us in maintaining a safe and secure stadium by getting in early and leaving large bags and large umbrellas at home to avoid unnecessary delays and disappointment.”

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Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

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PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host their own virtual clubhouse quiz, thanks to Principality Building Society.

The women’s squad at the Pembroke club beat more than 1000 entries to win Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz competition. With many clubs affected by widespread flooding at the start of this year and now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus, the building society is continually looking for ways to support grassroots rugby clubs in Wales.

Pembroke Panther Lucy Neale, 30, entered her team with the hope of bringing the players together online. She said: “We’d usually see each other up to five times a week between training sessions, matches and socials, so it’s been a really strange time. I thought I’d enter the club thinking it would be a nice pick-me-up for us all, but never actually expected to win so it was an amazing surprise.”

The team were tested on their rugby knowledge by world cup referee Nigel Owens over video conferencing platform Zoom, where players won tickets to Welsh internationals at Principality Stadium, signed rugby shirts and balls, and tickets for a tour around Principality Stadium. The quiz included a guest appearance from former Welsh international Tom Shanklin.

Lucy continued: “It was such a memorable and special evening for us all. We’re usually quite a lively bunch but we behaved well for Nigel. We’re so thankful to Principality for putting on the quiz and allowing us to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as a team.”

As sponsors of Principality Stadium and the National Youth Leagues for grassroots clubs in Wales, Principality has a strong relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and knows how much rugby means to communities across the country. With matches on hold currently, the building society wanted to be able to bring the buzz of the clubhouse to the home.

Clubhouse Quiz host, Nigel Owens, said: “Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz was a fantastic way to bring one team closer together and Pembroke Panthers really showed off their rugby knowledge. Rugby plays such an important role in Welsh communities and I know they’ll be missing the action on the field right now, so it was lovely to have been part of this experience to bring this team together. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sin bin any of them either.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “Many rugby clubs across Wales have had a really difficult year, with flood damage to pitches and clubhouses now followed by coronavirus. This was our chance to recreate the camaraderie of the clubhouse for one team and we hope that it brought plenty of laughs and memorable moments for Pembroke Panthers at this challenging time.”

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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