By David Parsons
The stage is set for 10 days of non-stop action as clubs and players from all over Wales descend on the home of Welsh rugby for the ‘Road to Principality 2023’ rugby jamboree.
Last year saw record breaking numbers in almost every category as the fans flocked to watch the rising stars of the game, as well as established senior players representing clubs from across all divisions chase titles and lifelong memories of playing at the Principality Stadium.
There will be 29 cup finals played across the 10 days of action, which kicks-off on Saturday, 1 April with the three WRU Women’s National Cup Finals. The following day will see the girls take centre stage with two U16 finals.
Saturday’s games will see Merchedd Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd tackle Haverfordwest Ladies in the Bowl Final, Burry Port Ladies face Whitland Ladies in the Plate Final and Llandaff North seek to add the National Cup to the South Wales title they won at the stadium last year when they take on Pontyclun Falcons in the showpiece Cup Final.
The Bowl and Plate Finals will be following by a full screening of Wales Women’s TikTok Six Nations clash with Scotland (kick-off 5.30pm) as Hannah Jones’ side seek to build on their 31-5 opening round win over Ireland last weekend. The Cup Final will kick-off at 7.30pm.
“We have already staged six finals – three in the WRU National Schools & Colleges League before Christmas and three for the Welsh Schools U18. They were all of a very high standard and have set the tone for what is coming up in April,” said Community Rugby Director, Geraint John.
“Last year’s RTP events were bigger and better than ever before and broke records in almost every category:
More than 30,000 fans attended Principality Stadium
2,765,500 impressions across the platform
Total viewing figures for video content (live stream highlights and pitch interviews) 337,600 views
Combined reach of 1,271,288 across all posts
143,093 views of live stream content across the event
67 news and video stories available to view on WRU website
“The goal will be to improve on those figures, as well as to provide every player with a day to remember at Principality Stadium.
“For some, this may well be the first step in a career that takes them to the top of the game and enables them to one day play for either the Wales Senior men’s or women’s team.
“The whole essence of this annual gathering at Principality Stadium is to inspire youngsters and reward those clubs up and down our National League structures with the chance to enjoy a unique day out at the home of Welsh rugby.
“Already we are seeing clubs involved in the senior finals filling buses to bring their fans to the Welsh capital to enjoy a great day out and we hope to welcome as many as possible.”
Three games are left to determine the full line-up in this year’s ‘Road to Principality’ senior club finals after another dramatic round of semi-final clashes.
Last weekend saw Cardiff and Newport qualify for the WRU Premiership Cup Final, while Neath and Pontypool will meet this weekend in the second semi-final in the WRU Championship Cup to determine who will face Ystrad Rhondda.
The WRU Division 1 Cup semi-finals also take place this weekend, with unbeaten Newbridge and Nant Conwy putting their records on the line:
SATURDAY, 1 APRIL – DIVISION 1 CUP SEMI-FINALS
Newbridge v Ammanford (at Llanharan RFC)
St Peter’s v Nant Conwy (at Aberaeron RFC)
The winners will meet at Principality Stadium on Sunday, 23 April as the first game on in a triple-header that day which will also include the Championship and Premiership Cup Finals. The Cup Final for Divisions 2-5 will take place on Saturday, 8 April.
The teams for those club finals were determined last weekend:
Division 5 Cup Final: Crumlin v Ferndale
Division 4 Cup Final: Bryncethin v Nantyglo
Division 3 Cup Final: Abertillery BG v Vardre
Division 2 Cup Final: Aberdare v Morriston
“Last year we had six senior club finals for the men, which has increased to seven this year, and three for the women. They all attracted big followings and we hope to see them all played out in front of bumper crowds once again,” added John.
“We also have Judgement Day returning to Principality Stadum this season following COVID and that will feature the professional games between Cardiff and Ospreys, as well as Dragons v Scarlets, on Saturday, 22 April.”
The final two-days of the event will see inclusion days, with a Mixed Ability clash between Cardiff Chiefs and Llanelli Wanderers, as well as a round-robin competition involving three teams of gay rugby players representing the Swansea Vikings, Dragons and Rhinos. There will also be a Walking Rugby element for the first time.
‘ROAD TO PRINCIPALITY 2023’ – FIXTURES
Saturday, 1 April – NATIONAL WOMEN’S CUP FINALS
WRU Women’s National Bowl Final (1.00pm) – Merchedd Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd v Haverfordwest Ladies
WRU Women’s National Plate Final (3.15pm) – Burry Port Ladies v Whitland Ladies
Scotland v Wales – Live Screening (5.30pm)
WRU Women’s National Cup Final (7.30pm) – Llandaff North v Pontyclun Falcons
Sunday, 2 April – NATIONAL GIRL’S U16 CUP FINALS
WRU Girls U16 National Plate Final (1.00pm) – Gwylliaid Meirionnydd vs Cardiff Quins Girls
WRU Girls U16 National Cup Final (3.00pm) – Ravens v Nelson Belles
Friday, 7 April – NATIONAL YOUTH 18 MALE FINALS
WRU National Youth U18 Bowl Final (3.00pm) – Caerphilly v Llangwm
WRU National Youth U18 Plate Final (5.15pm) – Ammanford v Burry Port
WRU National Youth U18 Cup Final (7.30pm) – Carmarthen Quins v Tondu
Saturday, 8 April – NATIONAL MEN’S CUP FINALS (PART 1)
WRU National Division 5 Cup Final (11.00am): Crumlin v Ferndale
WRU National Division 4 Cup Final (1.15pm): Bryncethin v Nantyglo
WRU National Division 3 Cup Final (3.30pm): Abertillery BG v Vardre
WRU National Division 2 Cup Final (5.45pm): Aberdare v Morriston
Saturday, 22 APRIL – JUDGEMENT DAY
Sunday, 23 April – NATIONAL MEN’S CUP FINALS (PART 2)
WRU National Division 1 Cup Final (1.00pm): TBC
WRU National Championship Cup Final (3.15pm): Ystrad Rhondda v Neath / Pontypool
WRU National Premiership Cup Final (5.35pm): Cardiff v Newport
Monday, 24 April – WSRU JUNIOR & INTERMEDIATE CUP FINALS
U11 Junior Group 10-a-side John Rees Cup Final (11.30am): TBC
U14 Intermediate Group Year 8 Cup Final (12.45pm): TBC
U16 Intermediate Group Year 9 Cup Final (2.30pm): TBC
Tuesday, 25 April – GIRL’S NATIONAL FINALS DAY & MEN’S DISTRICTS CUP FINAL
Girl’s National Schools U12 Cup Final (10.30am): TBC
Girl’s National Schools U14 Cup Final (12.30am): TBC
Girl’s National Schools U16 Cup Final (2.30pm): TBC
Girl’s National Schools & Colleges U18 Cup Final (4.30pm): TBC
Welsh Districts Male Cup Final (7.30pm): TBC
Wednesday, 26 April – WSRU JUNIOR & INTERMEDIATE GROUP REPRESENTATIVE FINALS
U11 DC Thomas Bowl Final (10.00am): TBC
U11 DC Thomas Plate Final (11.30am): TBC
U11 DC Thomas Cup Final (1.00pm): TBC
U15 Lawrence Miller Bowl (2.30pm): Islwyn v Pembrokeshire
U15 Morgan Griffiths Plate (4.30pm): Cynon Valley / Carmarthen v Swansea Valley / Merthyr
U15 Dewar Shield Final (6.30pm): Pontypridd v Cardiff /Swansea
Thursday, 27 April – INCLUSION DAY 1
Mixed Ability Game (6.30pm): Cardiff Chiefs v Llanelli Wanderers
Friday, 28 April – INCLUSION DAY 2
Inclusion Festival (Ummul Girl’s Academy – 9.00-10.00am)
Schools Festival (10.15-11.45am)
SEN Group (12.00-1.30pm)
Walking Rugby Festival (1.45-3.30pm)
IGR Rugby Fixtures (3.45-5.45pm): Vikings, Dragons, Rhinos round robin
‘RTP 2023’ – Results To Date
WRU National Schools & Colleges League – 7 December
Cup Final: Coleg Sir Gâr 30 – 35 Cardiff & Vale College
Plate Final: Coleg y Cymoedd 12 – 24 Ysgol Glantaf
Bowl Final: Coleg Gwent 31 – 40 Llandovery College
Welsh Schools U18 Cups – 2 March
Cup: Ysgol y Strade 20 – 17 Ysgol Ystalyfera
Vase: Gwyr 46 – 12 Calon Cymru
Plate: Dyffryn Taf 15 – 14 Merthyr College