A day out at the Arms Park

Cardiff Arms Park is one of the most iconic grounds in world rugby, but it has taken me until now to get there, for the Cardiff/Toulon Heineken Cup game.

Cardiff Arms Park (named after a hotel which once stood on the site) built its first stand in 1881. The architect was Archibald Leitch no less, famous for designing Glasgow Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium, and Fulham’s Craven Cottage, among others.In those early days there was even a cricket ground to the north as well as a rugby stadium to the south. by 1969 the cricket ground had been demolished to make way for the present day Arms Park to the north and a second rugby stadium to the south. This was the National Stadium, and used by the Welsh national team  until it too fell under the wrecking ball in 1997, to be replaced by the Millennium Stadium.

The latter dominates its much smaller cousin, but the two are conjoined as if by an umbilical cord. For the South Stand of the Arms Park forms a complete unit with the North Stand of the Millennium Stadium. My seat was in this South Stand , which you enter underneath the North Stand of the Millennium – all that prevents you from entering the latter are heavy barred gates and some wary stewards.

Apparently this section is known locally as “Glanmor’s Gap”, after a former W.R..U. President. The story has it that the W.R.U. were unable to secure enough funding to include the North Stand in the Millennium Stadium. The latter was therefore built with the old reinforced concrete structure of the National Stadium’s North Stand, with the rest of the new steel Millennium Stadium structure built around it.

So it may not have been due to the most satisfactory of reasons , but I believe that somehow what has emerged does work for an unashamed ground enthusiast such as me.

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