A first taste of Judgement Day for both Dai Young and Toby Booth is clearly exciting the pair as Cardiff and Ospreys prepare to face off on Saturday.
The Welsh Shield and qualification for the Champions Cup will be on the line when Young’s Cardiff take on Booth’s Ospreys at the Principality Stadium.
There are just four points between the sides in the BKT United Rugby Championship table going into this final game of the regular season, so it really is all to play for.
Key game at Principality Stadium
Cardiff are currently in pole position and would take the Shield on matches won if the teams end up level on points. So the Ospreys need to pick up the maximum five points and deny their rivals a losing bonus to retain the trophy and progress to Europe’s elite event.
Looking at the opposing coaches, Young‘s previous nine-year spell in charge at the Arms Park pre-dated the 2013 launch of the Judgement Day Welsh derby double header, which was put on hold during Covid.
“I haven’t experienced it before, so I am really looking forward to the occasion and I hope the Welsh public get behind it,” he said.
“I have seen it from afar when I was in England with Wasps. I think everybody agrees the concept is a good one and it was very well supported.
“Obviously it’s had a couple of years not happening with Covid, so let’s hope it takes off from where it finished. It’s up to us to try and build it as well because there’s no reason why it can’t be an occasion to rival some of the big games in England.
“Hopefully there will be some real good rugby on the field to excite the supporters and everyone will enjoy a fantastic day at the stadium.
“If not the best stadium in the world, it’s got to be up there with the best around. As a player, you can never get fed up of playing there, no matter how many caps you have had for Wales. So the players will always get excited for playing there.
“Very rarely do you get an opportunity to play out there in your club jersey with your mates who you spend every day with, so the players will be really excited about it. It’s just a fantastic way to finish the league out there on the national stadium.”
Giving his thoughts on the Ospreys, former Wales and British and Irish Lions prop Young said: “To be fair to them, they have definitely had the wood over us the last couple of seasons.
“They have been a little bit too strong up front for us. We know exactly where the threats are. They have got a fantastic pack of forwards. It’s more or less the Welsh pack really. That’s always been the challenge for us, getting enough ball to try and play the game we want to play.
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“We have huge got respect for them and how much quality they have got within the team. They are well coached. We have just got to get out there and give it our best shot.
“We need to get at least parity up front and hopefully we can fire some shots of our own. It’s always good games against them, so I don’t see this will be any different.”
He added: “It would certainly be nice to finish as the best-placed Welsh team because we have been out in front for most of the season.
“Toby will probably tell us he has timed it right, right at the last game. For us, it’s just about getting a performance and hopefully getting that result. It’s a hugely important game.”
It will also be a first Judgement Day at the Principality Stadium for former London Irish, Bath and Harlequins coach Booth, who took up the reins at the Ospreys in 2020.
“I am interested to see what it’s like,” he said.
Judgement Day excites Booth
“There is going to be a lot of emotion in this one because there is a lot of change coming round the corner with people moving on and changes in playing and coaching staff.
“It will be great to be talking about the grass square and the people on it for one last time and seeing where it all goes after that.
“It meant quite a lot to us to win the Welsh Shield last season. It was a sign of progress. The table doesn’t lie.
“It represents a lot of effort and a very passionate competition between the regions and the prize of playing in the Champions Cup on the back of it.
“With it coming down to Judgement Day, it will be a bit more spicy, but Welsh derbies are like that and we sign up for that and we enjoy it.”
He concluded: “We make no apologies for having a good forward pack, while if the game is loose and fluid, Cardiff are a real handful.
“It’s a contrast in styles but that’s why people love the game because there’s more than one way to win it. That’s what makes it exciting.”