A Sporting City Like No Other
There are few cities in the world which lives and breathes our game like the city of Cardiff.
If the city’s soul is Rugby itself, the heart shall be the imposing national stadium. Recently re-christened the Principality in the latest bow to commercial input - something we’ll politely gloss over here - the former Millennium Stadium bills itself as the Worlds’ Greatest - a claim which when hearing ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ bellow out of 70,000 pre-match mouths is impossible to deny. Walking down the players tunnel into the cauldron re-enacting a 6-Nations tussle on a stadium tour just about has the hairs launching from your neck.
Outside of the stadium, the compact yet lively streets surround the venue with great bars, numerous restaurants and a real sense of fun and national enthusiasm. From the famous old half-and-half Chippy’s on Caroline Street, to the more upmarket bars of Mill Lane, Cardiff offers ample option for the hungry & thirsty tourist.
Tucked away tidily in between the national stadium & the Cardiff Castle is the Cardiff Arms Park. True, the pitch isn’t the exact location of the timeless Welsh battles of the past, but the clubhouse is & it overflows with tradition, history and enormous pride as Glamorgans most famous of old Rugby clubs. The ground is of course the current home to Cardiff Blues, the Guinness Pro14 region & home of 2013 British & Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton, front row centurion Gethin Jenkins & a long list of Welsh internationalists
Visiting the Blues on tour to Cardiff is obligatory. As well as match tickets to domestic and European games, you’re able to play out a timeless battle of your own against any one of the cities clubs on the immaculate synthetic 3G pitch, go through the motions with input from the Blues senior coaching team before seeing the pros in training themselves, experience the strength & conditioning work-outs the Blues players partake in & eat like a Cardiff player for the day – a real money-can’t-buy behind-the-scenes experience rarely available at other less community focused clubs.
Tucked away in the clubhouse, you’ll find the Trophy room - a pottered treasure-trove of Rugby history. Photos, gifts & pictures fill the walls, but the undoubted highlight is one of just two remaining match jersey’s from the infamous 1905 All Blacks – a team dubbed The Originals. Invaluable. Rugby anoraks like me can be forgiven for dropping their jaw here.
Away from the pro-stuff, you have the choice of 95 Rugby Clubs in the county of Glamorgan itself. Whether it be a test with the city slickers or the valley boys up the hill, rugby down here is a way of life. A magnificent experience for any player.
You’ll tackle Cardiff from the YHA, GB’s first and only 5* Youth Hostel, located halfway between the exciting city centre and the cultural hive of Cardiff Bay.
Whilst Rugby holds the back-page, sport in general has a colossal presence in the city. Hockey, Cricket & Football boast some excellent facilities here, but it is the International White Water Centre in Cardiff Bay which offers the real wow factor. 250m of man made torrents offers a great opportunity to tourists to push the boundaries and kick back away from matchday.
Other highlights of the city include the Zero Degrees Micro-Brewery and restaurant, Viva Brazil Churrascaria, the stunning Cardiff Bay & a wide range of craft-beer pubs like the Tap House, Gravity Station, the Cambrian Tap & the Hop Bunker.