Wales 'A' Match Canceled: Ground Called Unplayable
(Cardiff, Wales) 1 January 1997 -- Wales Rugby Union officials called off today's match between the United States and Wales 'A,' declaring Cardiff Arms Park's National Stadium to be unplayable.
The game's venue had already been moved to Cardiff from Newport to accommodate an unusual cold snap that's recently wrought havoc on rugby matches throughout Great Britain, and the cancellation is the first since the WRU installed a subterranean heating system several years ago.
Although the National Stadium ground remains ok beneath the surface, continued sub-freezing temperatures and a brisk wind have nonetheless turned the playing surface into a hardened crust. Officials delayed their decision right up to 1:00 pm, 90 minutes before kickoff, before bowing to safety concerns.
The touring Eagles thus miss out on the first match of their four-game tour. Disappointment shot through the squad, which received little warning of the fixture's peril, especially because the US hasn't played since Septemberšs Pan American Championship, and hasn't appeared on Welsh soil since 1987.
"We're obviously deeply disappointed," US coach Jack Clark said later this afternoon, "but wešre cognizant that the game was cancelled for reasons of safety. The decision was ultimately the WRU's, but wešre certainly not interested in placing our players' health in danger."
The US worked out this afternoon in a local fitness club, and will train twice tomorrow. Selections for Saturday's match with Neath RFC will be announced at 10 am Friday press conference at Cardiff's Park Hotel.