Over the last decade or so, Tenby has been subjected to a strange phenomenon. Always a rugby town, with a proud local club that has seen better times, it has become a second millennium stadium.
For reasons better known to the rugby fans from the valleys, Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Llanelli even, instead of heading to Cardiff to watch the match, the hordes flock to Tenby for a ‘weekend of it’. Maybe it’s a trade-off, with the men watching the match whilst the women go shopping. But that’s a gross simplification.
They arrive on Saturday morning, bright eyed, etc and within an hour they’ve gone ‘up town’. This seems to include visiting one or more pubs, settling into the most ‘homely’ to watch not just one, certainly two, if it’s one of those ultimate days then three matches, the common denominator being, of course, the match pits the mighty Welsh fifteen against any other. And many head straight for Tenby Rugby Club, a venue dislocated from the club’s ground, located towards the back of town, and from normal club activity for the weekend; it provides a great room with a great screen for a large, passionate audience not recommended for any away fan. And often the most passionate are the women, so it would seem the Tenby shopping allure is not the sole determinant in their Tenby rugby weekend.
We also have the autumn internationals to give reason for Tenby rugby weekends, running between October and November and regularly, it seems, with Wales having an extra match. Thank you for the extra business.
And then there is the World Cup, considered by some to be about football but in Wales there is only one World Cup, this year’s coming from Japan in September. Some many years ago, in the last knockings of the last century, Wales with English support was the host nation. This was the opportunity for the new, former Millennium, now Principality Stadium to puff out its chest and articulate to the rest of the world that Wales might be ditherers when it comes to new buildings for new parliaments, but when it comes to rugby there is no hesitation.
It seems the Welsh team have been punching above their weight since then. We have a population of only three million yet going into this year’s World Cup we are seeded third in the world, after Ireland (6.6m) and New Zealand (4.8m). And from 20th September to 2nd November this year, we expect the ‘Tenby rugby match weekend’ to return, big time. After all, the matches aren’t 90 miles away, they’re in Japan.