Pro Rugby in Wales will host an unprecedented series of six Welsh derbies as a thrilling finale to the Guinness PRO12 season for rugby supporters in Wales.
THE BIG SIX
Ospreys v Scarlets - Sat 26th March, Liberty Stadium – kick off 3pm
Dragons v Ospreys - Fri 1st April, Rodney Parade – kick off 7.05pm
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues - Sat 2nd April, Parc y Scarlets – kick off 3pm
Cardiff Blues v Dragons –Sun 17th April BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park – kick off 2.30pm
JUDGEMENT DAY IV Saturday 30th April 2016, Principality Stadium
Match 1: Cardiff Blues v Ospreys - kick off 2.30pm
Match 2: Newport Gwent Dragons v Scarlets - kick off 5pm
Following an intense Six Nations campaign for the international teams, the rugby spotlight moves onto the four Welsh pro sides who welcome home their Welsh stars back for some of the biggest battles of the Guinness PRO12 season.
On the back of the popular and successful Christmas and New Year Welsh derbies which saw more than 43,000 supporters enjoy Guinness PRO12 rugby over a fortnight - the next six weeks is set to see 100,000 fans in Wales support live match day action at Welsh rugby’s five big home stadia.
Four Welsh derbies at the home of the Pro teams in Wales will culminate in the showcase event at the national stadium - Judgement Day IV, the Guinness Pro12 derby double-header to be played on Saturday 30th April, which has already sold over 40,000 seats at Principality Stadium and remains well over a month ahead of record sales figures hit last year.
Chief Executive of Pro Rugby Wales Mark Davies said: “To see six major Welsh derbies contested here in Wales over the next six weeks is unprecedented - it will be one of the most significant periods in our regional calendar for many years.
“This is a huge opportunity for our players, our clubs, partners and our supporters to join and celebrate great Welsh rugby action throughout our regions with so much riding on these games from both a rugby and commercial perspective.
“With increased jeopardy in Guinness PRO12 in terms of qualification for Europe, it’s a critical time in the season with much more than just regional pride at stake - and we’d hope that both home and away fans will really back their teams in the coming weeks.
“We’ll see a great mix of our Welsh rugby talent in these games; with stars of our national team to the players that have stepped-up competition for places back at home with a host of exciting developing young players who have shone during the Six Nations.
“The action culminates in Judgement Day IV on April 30th – the double derby event which in partnership with the WRU which looks set to host another record crowd so this really is a great time to enjoy Welsh rugby and show your support!”
Welsh derby action kicks off this weekend with a big contest in the West; Ospreys v Scarlets on Saturday at the Liberty Stadium and Ospreys Head Coach Steve Tandy says it’s a game where everything is at stake.
Steve Tandy said: "The Scarlets game is always huge for us and this one is bigger than ever with everything that's at stake. For us, it's the start of a massive five game run, including three derbies, and we know that there is no margin for error if we want to secure Champions Cup rugby next season.
"It's going to be a huge afternoon with a big crowd and two local rivals going head to head. Exactly the kind of game that supporters, players and coaches alike want to be involved in."
Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac said: "With only five games remaining in the regular PRO12 campaign, and three of those games derbies, we know we still have our work cut out to ensure we finish the season in the top four.
“The derbies bring with them an added edge that means the players need no added motivation. We start with the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium - it is a massive game. The Ospreys are in a similar position to where we found ourselves last season, chasing that European spot. Knowing the Ospreys, they will back themselves to win their last five and you add players like Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb into the mix with a lot of quality young players that they have, it is going to be a huge challenge for us."
Cardiff Blues Head Coach Danny Wilson said: “The six derby games, culminating in Judgement Day IV at the Principality Stadium, will be of huge importance right across Wales in the closing months of the season.
“We really enjoyed our big derby games with the Scarlets and Dragons over the Christmas and New Year period and it was fantastic to see full houses enjoying regional rugby. All the teams have much to play for so it’s all set up to be a thrilling end to the season and some huge Welsh derby matches for us all to enjoy.”
Lyn Jones, Director of Rugby at Newport Gwent Dragons added: “Historically the Welsh derbies have been a fantastic platform for our young players to tackle Welsh International players and stake a claim for the national jersey, this season the matches will prove no different.
“We take on the three Regions during the month of April, with one match at Rodney Parade, another at the Principality Stadium for Judgement Day IV and the last encounter away from home against Cardiff Blues. All of which will prove to be a big task and hopefully a great advert for Welsh rugby.
“We recognise that the remainder of the PRO12 season is going to be a huge challenge for us, not forgetting our match against Gloucester in the ¼ final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, but we plan to finish the season on a high.”