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10,000 Wales rugby fans set to finally return to Principality Stadium in five weeks

Crowds of 10,000 are on the cards for each of Wales’ three international matches at the Principality Stadium this summer.

Wayne Pivac’s Six Nations champions will play hosts to a Canadian team coached by Kingsley Jones and Rob Howley on July 3.

They will then face back to back games against Argentina on the following two Saturdays (July 10 and 17).

Originally, Wales were due to tour Uruguay and Argentina this summer.

But that plan was scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with an alternative three-match schedule put in place for Cardiff.

The focus now turns to how many fans will be allowed in for those games.

There have been no crowds at rugby matches in Wales since March 2020, with all fixtures taking place behind closed doors.

While a limited number of fans were allowed to attend Swansea City and Newport County’s home play-off legs last week, there have been no trial spectator events in rugby yet.

But the WRU are hopeful they will get the thumbs up for the summer internationals.

Chief executive Steve Phillips said: “We are expecting some news on June 7.

“There was 10,000 in Twickenham last weekend for both European finals.

“The Lions have got 17,000 in Murrayfield on June 26.

“England are playing USA and Canada in July and we wait to see what they are going to have.

“Providing the Welsh Government are comfortable with the Indian Variant, I would be optimistic for the Wales matches against Canada and Argentina.

“My hope is we can get to 10,000.

“What I’ve heard is it will probably be the lower of 25 per cent or 10,000.”

The question then is how do they decide who gets in?

“We are working on that at the moment,” said Phillips.

“There are a number of problems. We have got commercial partners, we’ve got debenture holders and we are going to have to find a way to deal with that.

“It will be complicated.

“There’s also an argument on who’s game is it, so we have to figure all that out and what does that mean.

“You could argue because it’s not Wales’ home game, the club entitlement to tickets isn’t there, so we will have to figure that out.

“If it’s technically an Argentinian game, do we say to Argentina, well what do you want?”

The question on whose fixtures the Pumas matches are also has a knock-on financially.

“We are supposed to have gone down there,” said Phillips.

“But I didn’t want our players quarantining for ten days on the way back.

“We should have flown down there, so we’ve helped Argentina fly up here and, technically then, it’s their gate and we will have to come to some sort of arrangement on that.

“You have also got TV to discuss.

“With crowds of 10,000, I’m not even sure we’ll make a profit, but I’ll still do it because it’s all about getting the atmosphere back.

“It’s a start, a sign of getting back towards normality and that’s more important to me than making a return on it.

“Wayne was very clear in saying he wanted international rugby in July. So that was the main driver.

“Wales want to play, Argentina really want to play and we were fortunate then because of the arrangement England have made with USA and Canada that we were able to play Canada on July 3.”

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Chairman Rob Butcher echoed Phillips over the prospect of having fans on board for the July games.

“We are constantly in touch with government and we are reasonably confident we will have some kind of crowd in the summer,” he said.

“It means we are on a route back in. It’s the optics, the feel-good factor.

“Everybody can see we are on the way then. I think that’s a huge thing.

“We weren’t part of the first batch of test events which the Welsh government allowed.

“But hopefully we are going to be there now. It will make a huge difference.”

This article was first published in Simon Thomas’ newsletter briefing, sent straight to our rugby newsletter subscribers every Wednesday.

To receive Simon’s weekly briefing and the latest rugby news, analysis and interviews – sent straight to your inbox daily for free – you can sign up to Gist Vile’s rugby newsletter here.

Butcher added: “They are actually Argentina’s games, but we are hosting them, we are pleased to do that, they are pleased to be coming. They are playing a game in Romania first.

“We have managed to fix up Canada, so that’s a bonus, with matches on three successive Saturdays in the stadium, which is first class. We are looking forward to that.”

It remains to be seen whether any crowds will be permitted for the U20s Six Nations championship which is being staged at Cardiff Arms Park between June 19 and July 13.

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