- 2008/9 season preview -
- 2008/9 season preview -
Cardiff Arms Park,
Stadium Capacity: 13,500
Last time around: It was another case of 'close but no cigar' for Cardiff Blues last season, as they finished second to Leinster – having been pipped to the title by the Ospreys the previous season. They started the season in fine form and quickly established themselves at the top of the table, although a mid-season slump ultimately put paid to their title hopes. A late season rally ensured they ended as the top Welsh region but Leinster had already done enough to ensure the title was heading for Ireland.
This time: With two consecutive runners-up spots on the trot Cardiff Blues will be looking to make it a third time lucky this year. However it is difficult to see them toppling Leinster from the top of the pile, although they will give it a fair crack. A lot will again come down to the senior players, most notably their Kiwi contingent, although this time around there is a more balanced look to the squad in general. Several players will have benefited from a full off-season rest, whilst the likes of Jamie Roberts will have developed further with Wales' summer tour. Testing times will come during the November internationals and Six Nations but the Blues should have enough in reserve to weather the storm and set up a final charge for glory.
Coach: Dai Young will again lead the Cardiff Blues, having lost out on a possible move to Leicester during the off-season. He is yet to deliver a trophy, which has seen him come in for some harsh criticism in Wales, but has slowly moulded a formidable squad in that time. He has stayed loyal to the club he served so well as a player, but one feels his time is running out to deliver tangible results.
Captain: With Xavier Rush set to miss the start of the season through injury the captaincy has been handed to his fellow Kiwi Paul Tito. After just one season at the Arms Park Tito has rapidly become a crowd favourite, owing to his stand-out performances and superb work ethic (and maybe that mop of red hair!) Having captained New Zealand Maori in 2006 he is a proven leader and one Dai Young hopes can help deliver this season.
One to watch: He played a minor role last season but expect Dafydd Hewitt to be a more regular feature at the Arms Park this year. A skilful and creative midfield player Hewitt has been with the Blues for two seasons now, although suffering several frustrating injuries. With several outside backs departing in the off-season Hewitt will be relishing the chance to impress this year.
Final 2008/09 league position prediction: 3rd
Squad: Ben Blair, Aled Brew, Chris Czekaj, Bradley Davies, Taufa'ao Filise, Rhys Gill, Dafydd Hewitt, Tom James, Gethin Jenkins, Ross Johnson, Deiniol Jones, Mark Lewis, Ma'ama Molitika, Scott Morgan, Richard Mustoe, Andy Powell, Gary Powell, Richie Rees, Jamie Roberts, Scott Roberts, Jamie Robinson, Nick Robinson, Xavier Rush, Tom Shanklin, Robin Sowden-Taylor, Jason Spice, Ceri Sweeney, Gareth Thomas, T.Rhys Thomas, Paul Tito, Ben White, Gareth Williams, Martyn Williams, Rhys Williams, John Yapp.
Colours: Light Blue (home) White (away)
Tickets: Ticket prices range from Â£3 to Â£22
Car: From junction 29, 32 & 33 off the M4, follow signs to the city centre. The Arms Park is situated next door to the Millennium Stadium with access through the main gate opposite the Angel Hotel on Westgate Street. We are within walking distance of all major car parks. We are approximately 5-10 minutes walk from Cardiff central bus terminal.
Train: Cardiff Arms Park is approximately 5-10 minutes walk from Cardiff Central station and 10-15 minutes walk from Cardiff Queen Street railway station. Cardiff Central is served by a number of train operators, including Great Western, Valley Lines and Wales & Borders, linking the capital to the main train routes and primary terminals across the UK.
Bus: Cardiff Bus Station is a three minute walk from the Arms Park.
Plane: Cardiff Wales International Airport is 12 miles west of Cardiff city centre. From the Airport join the M4 Eastbound, exit M4 and follow City Centre signs. Cardiff Arms Park is within walking distance of all city centre car parks.