England get open roof wish for Wales clash
NEWS: The retractable roof at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium will remain open for Saturday's Six Nations Championship clash between Wales and England following a request by the visitors.
Wales had wanted the roof to remain shut as the increased noise levels were set to intensify the support they receive from a sell-out crowd, while also assuring dry conditions ideally suited to their favoured running game.
But under Six Nations rules, both sides must agree in order for the roof to be shut and a Rugby Football Union spokesman told AFP on Thursday that England head coach Eddie Jones, who kept Wales guessing until the 48-hour deadline, wanted the game played in the open air.
The move will be welcomed by rugby traditionalists who have long insisted that adapting to potentially adverse weather conditions is one of the key aspects of the game.
On paper, any wind and rain in the Welsh capital on Saturday ought to favour Six Nations Grand Slam champions England, whose game is based on set-piece dominance.
Wales beat England under a closed roof in 2013 but lost to their arch-rivals when it was kept open two years ago.
Alun Wyn Jones, the Wales captain, was in no doubt of how having the roof shut created a unique atmosphere.
"When it is closed it's not claustrophobic, but I think there is essentially no escape for anyone or anything," he said before England's decision was announced.
"Sometimes that is a great place to be. It's the sort of occasion you want to be involved in."
Jones had insisted on Monday he didn't care what happened with the roof.
"Maybe it will be oscillating - we'll catch it at the right time," he said. "I have no idea, I don't worry about it.
"All we are worried about is playing well. It can be open or closed," the Australian added. "We don't care. If we have a say in it, we'll make a decision at the appropriate time."
England will be looking to extend a national record run of 15 successive Test victories following last week's narrow 19-16 win at home to France in their Six Nations opener at Twickenham.
But it is Wales who are the early pacesetters in the tournament following a 33-7 win away to Italy.