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Battle for Welsh Shield spices up Judgement Day

The Welsh Shield will be up for grabs on Judgement Day

Battle for Welsh Shield spices up Judgement Day

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Nobody at the four Welsh regions is getting ahead of themselves, but everyone is now getting excited at the prospect of taking a trip to Principality Stadium for Judgement Day IX on Saturday, 22 April. 

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There is an away day for all four teams in the penultimate round of the URC regular season before full focus can fall on the clash of the Welsh clans. On Friday, 14 April Scarlets head to Glasgow and Dragons go to Belfast to meet Ulster, while the following day Cardiff Rugby are in Connacht and the Ospreys are in Edinburgh. 

The results this weekend will dictate what is at stake over and above local bragging rights on Judgement Day. The Welsh Shield is likely to still be up for grabs between Cardiff and the Ospreys, while Scarlets will be hoping to get into shape for their European semi-final when they take on the Dragons. 

Judgement Day 2023

First started back in 2013, crowds of up to 68,262 have flocked to the home of Welsh rugby to witness back-to-back derby matches. This year the event returns to Principality Stadium for the first time since 2019 following the hiatus caused by COVID. 

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In 2020, the games were played behind closed doors on successive days at Rodney Parade, while in 2021 and 2022 the games were played at home venues. But now the double header is back, and players and coaches were at the venue this week to give their thoughts.  

“Judgement Day will be massive in the context of the season for us. We missed out on the opportunity of reaching a European semi-final in Italy, but given where we are in the league, our last two games are massively important because we can still scrape into the play-offs,” said Cardiff Rugby captain, Josh Turnbull. 

“As Tomas Williams said in the huddle at the end of one of our training sessions this week, it’s knockout rugby now. If we lose on the weekend, or against Ospreys, it’s game over for us.  

“Every game is a knockout game and that’s why we’re taking each one as it comes. It’s always great coming to Principality Stadium to play in front of friends, family and supporters from all the regions.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a good turn-out and the Welsh Shield will be on offer in our game. Ultimately it gives you entry into Heineken Champions Cup rugby and that gives you an opportunity to play against the top teams in Europe. 

That’s where we all want to be to test ourselves against the best. It’s definitely something we want to achieve.” 

Turnbull is no stranger to Judgement Day having played in the opening game in the inaugural event in 2013. In those days he was with the Scarlets and came on in that first game to help his side beat Dragons 28-20. 

The following year he started in the 17-13 defeat to Cardiff Blues and in 2015 he was in the Cardiff ranks. In four of the next five seasons he played in defeats to the Ospreys, but in 2020 he led his side to a 29-20 win at Rodney Parade. 

“I was here for the first one, although that’s a long time ago! I’ve had some pretty good games for Cardiff against the Ospreys that have gone down to the wire,” recalled Turnbull.  

“There was one I wasn’t involved in, when it got pretty tasty between Nick Williams and Alun Wyn Jones on the sidelines at half-time. I think Nick was trying to put Al back in his box!  

“There have been some pretty good games. Because of the size of the pitch, you can throw the ball around a bit and have a pretty expansive game.  

“People don’t realise how big it is until you get out there. I scored a try against the Ospreys a couple of seasons ago from a lineout – they made a mistake and it fell into my hands.” 

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Battle for Welsh Shield spices up Judgement Day