Watch­ing Wales v Scot­land in the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium’s no al­co­hol zone was a lovely ex­pe­ri­ence – and what hap­pened af­ter­wards just proved why it’s needed, writes Kathryn Wil­liams

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

IS an al­co­hol-free zone in the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium a good idea? I’d say yes. Dur­ing the game, I was al­ready 90% sure it was a good idea – but it’s what hap­pened when I left and was do­ing a piece to cam­era that con­vinced me com­pletely.

That’s when a highly ine­bri­ated fan (I won’t re­veal which side) told me my work was great be­fore he then ru­ined it by mak­ing an ob­scene, sex­u­ally ex­plicit com­ment di­rected at me which is far too vile to be printed in a fam­ily news­pa­per.

And this is no time to throw the word “ban­ter” in my face, just in case you were plan­ning to.

Be­cause a) that word has been bas­tardised for peo­ple to get away with be­ing abu­sive; b) it’s not ban­ter or re­motely funny, it’s just gross; and c) I was hav­ing quite a po­lite back and forth with the fella while firmly say­ing I had to get on with my job.

Be­fore you start, not all drunk peo­ple are this of­fen­sive and not all sports fans get drunk and abuse peo­ple.

I spoke with loads of vis­i­tors to the sta­dium yes­ter­day who ac­ci­den­tally booked no-al­co­hol zone tick­ets and were slightly half cut – in­clud­ing two mem­bers of a 16-strong stag from Ed­in­burgh and In­ver­ness, one of whom had sex toys taped to their hands – who were lovely. But imag­ine if I wasn’t work­ing. Imag­ine if I had brought along chil­dren – which many peo­ple had. Try ex­plain­ing that one away.

Imag­ine if I wasn’t a Val­leys girl who doesn’t like to take sh*t.

But all those things are ir­rel­e­vant. You don’t speak to peo­ple like that, drunk or not.

But, that grim ex­pe­ri­ence aside, there are plenty more rea­sons why I thought this four-match al­co­hol-free zone was a good idea, and not just be­cause there was less of the drunken bad be­hav­iour Welsh rugby fans have un­for­tu­nately got a well-pub­li­cised rep­u­ta­tion for in re­cent years.

There was a dis­tinct lack of upand-down, up-and-down as peo­ple con­stantly vis­ited the bar (or toi­let – and when you’re in the nose­bleed seeds it’s one trip and you’re gone).

I spoke to one fam­ily who had brought their son, Al­fie. Al­fie’s dad Ian Bar­nett told me that it was the least stress­ful match he and his fam­ily had been to.

“It’s the best visit we’ve had here, to­day,” said Ian.

“Sit­ting here made a big dif­fer­ence be­cause drunk peo­ple can be re­ally loud and spill beer down the back of your neck. It made a big dif­fer­ence to our en­joy­ment.”

Even one of the Scot­tish stags sup­ported the move. Si­mon Gil­mour said: “For fam­i­lies and maybe peo­ple who have suf­fered with al­co­holism, it’s a re­ally good idea. And for the rest of us, you can give up al­co­hol for 40 min­utes!”

The Thomp­son fam­ily, from Cwm­bran, were there too, with sev­enyear-old Mylo and Lacey, 10. They were so chatty, in­ter­ested and elo­quent, I’d hate for them to have to sit next to some­one who thought it was OK to eff and jeff all over the place.

Mum Lyn­d­sey said: “The at­mos­phere is al­ways great wher­ever you sit. We thought we’d try the zone be­cause we’re in train­ing.

“Peo­ple get re­ally in­volved. Up in the stands to­day there’s not been much swear­ing at all. There’s been lots of singing and ban­ter.”

So, it was a lovely af­ter­noon at the sta­dium spent watch­ing a de­cent rugby match, sur­rounded by kids cheer­ing, par­ents and peo­ple who dis­like be­ing ver­bally abused (I think that’s prob­a­bly ev­ery­one) and feel­ing re­laxed that they don’t have to ask the soz­zled rugby “ex­pert” be­hind them to stop telling the ref to eff-off.

Match re­port: Sport pull­out


Fans had to drink any al­co­hol in the walk­ways be­hind the stand

This fan was def­i­nitely on the pop

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