Wales is perfect in Grand Slam games in Cardiff in 6N era
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Chances are high Wales will sweep rugby's Six Nations for the Grand Slam this weekend and take the crown from Ireland.
Reigning champion and heir apparent meet on Saturday in what will be a raucous full house at Principality Stadium.
Since the tournament expanded in 2000, three Welsh, three French and one Irish team have earned the opportunity in their own stadiums to clinch the slam, and only one failed.
That was in 2003, when Ireland hosted a great England side, also going for the Grand Slam, at Lansdowne Road. The winner-take-all showdown wasn't a contest as England triumphed 42-6 and would go on to win the Rugby World Cup in Sydney later that year.
In championship history, Wales has secured a Grand Slam at home eight times, and blown it at home only once, in 1988, when it lost to France 10-9. France dominated the 1980s and 1988 was its third title (shared with Wales) of four in a row.
In the Six Nations era, Wales has converted all three of its Grand Slams chances, all in Cardiff.
Here's a recap:
2005: WALES 32, IRELAND 20
Wales led 16-6 at halftime with a Gethin Jenkins chargedown try and Gavin Henson dropped goal and 52-meter penalty. Then it was 29-6 from Kevin Morgan's try and Stephen Jones kicking 16 points. Wales eased up and Ireland scored tries to replacement prop Marcus Horan and Geordan Murphy, but with seven minutes to go that's where the comeback ended. Just two years after losing every game in the championship, Wales won its first Grand Slam since 1978, and beat Ireland in Cardiff for the first time since 1983. "The noise coming from the crowd at the end was fantastic, and dragged us to the end really," Morgan said.
2008: WALES 29, FRANCE 12
France could win the championship with a 20-point win. And it hadn't lost a championship game to Wales in Cardiff in 12 years. Wales led 9-6 at the half but with Gavin Henson in the sin-bin. In his absence, France leveled. Then a dropped pass from David Skrela was toed by Shane Williams, and he became Wales' leading all-time try-scorer with 41. Replacement flyhalf Stephen Jones kicked Wales ahead further, and flanker Martyn Williams finished off the French with a try. Wales' 10th Grand Slam came 100 years after its first. It conceded only two tries in the championship. "We've defended superbly, and that's what's won us this championship," captain Ryan Jones said.
2012: WALES 16, FRANCE 9
Wales lost narrowly to France in the Rugby World Cup semifinals five months before. Mervyn Davies, captain of the 1976 Grand Slam team, died two days beforehand, and Wales called it extra motivation. Alex Cuthbert's converted try and Leigh Halfpenny's goalkicks put Wales 13-6 up at halftime. Dimitri Yachvili's penalty cut the gap to four, but Halfpenny sealed it with his third penalty five minutes from time. Dan Lydiate edged a great defensive scrap with Thierry Dusautoir to be man of the match. Forwards Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones and Ryan Jones joined 1970s greats Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams and Gerald Davies as the only Wales players to win three Grand Slams.