Principality Stadium Cardiff

Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland. Pic: Getty Images

Wales Win The Roof Battle, But Scots Are Firm Favourites To Win The War

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By Paul Jones

Wales have won the first round of their Six Nations opening battle against the Scots by getting Gregor Townsend’s side to do a U-turn on having the Principality Stadium roof closed today.

On Thursday, Warren Gatland expressed his dismay and disappointment at being told the Scots wouldn’t agree to the roof being closed for the Six Nations opener.

But yesterday the Scots said they were happy for the roof to be closed and it was shut in time for the Welsh Captain’s Run in the morning.

“The feeling with the roof closed is something you can’t really explain. It’s that feeling of passion, pride from the crowd that you get – it’s massive,” said Wales lock Adam Beard.

“The buzz, noise, everything about it is unbelievable. It’s like having an extra man out there on the field and I know the players are definitely looking forward to it.

“We didn’t mind if was open or closed, although we’re always happy to have it closed. The crowd make a massive impact and the noise and atmosphere makes it 10 times better having a closed stadium.

“We’re just looking forward to the game and 100% we can surprise a few people.”

Townsend’s men are odds-on favourites to notch their first win in Cardiff since 2002 and end a run of 11 straight defeats in the Welsh capital.

They did win the COVID hit 2020 Six Nations game played in Llanelli and notched a record 34-7 triumph at Murrayfield last season.

Gatland has already won three Grand Slams during his time with Wales, but has won only one Championship match since his return for a second stint in charge last year. That was against Italy – the only victory in their last eight tournament outings.

In fact, you have to go back two years to the 20-17 win over Scotland for Wales’ last home win in the Championship – on a day when Dan Biggar and Jonathan Davies both reached a century of Test caps.

They, along with a raft of household names, have either retired or are missing through injury, leaving Wales to depend on their most inexperienced Six Nations XV since 2019. Cam Winnett will win his first cap at full back, while Alex Mann will do the same if he joins his Cardiff clubmate off the bench.

There are 413 caps in the starting XV compared to the 788 that took the field in the last game against Argentina in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

But Scottish skipper Finn Russell is taking nothing for granted despite his side being huge favourites.

“We can’t come here and expect to win just because they are a young and inexperienced side. It’s definitely an opportunity for us,” said Russell.

“We have a more experienced side but that doesn’t always count on the day. Wales will go out there with nothing to lose and that’s the danger in front of us.

“We have to believe in ourselves and be confident, but we can’t win this Welsh team lightly. It’s not an easy place to come and win, as our record shows.

“Wale had a good World Cup and Warren Gatland has been back for a year. His players will be looking to impress him and playing to cement their futures in the side.”

The closing of the roof certainly won’t affect the Scottish No 10 after he spent five years at Racing 93 in France playing under the roof of their Parisian stadium.

“The weather changed during the week and that’s why we changed out mind. It might be a bit louder, but it will be the same for both teams.” he added.

“Roof open or shut doesn’t make much difference, especially to me as I played five years at Racing where we always played under a roof.”

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