|Union||Welsh Rugby Union|
|Ground(s)||Cardiff Arms Park (Capacity: 12,500)|
|Coach(es)|| Dale McIntosh
|Most caps||T Rhys Thomas (182)|
|Top scorer||Ben Blair (1,029)|
|Most tries||Tom James (31)|
Cardiff Blues (Welsh: Gleision Caerdydd) is one of the four professional Welsh regional rugby union teams. Based in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, the team play at Cardiff Arms Park and are owned by Cardiff Rugby Football Club.
Cardiff Blues is responsible for developing rugby union in the city of Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil and south Powys. Cardiff Blues are affiliated with a number of semi-professional and amateur clubs throughout the area, including Welsh Premier Division sides Cardiff RFC and Pontypridd RFC.
The Cardiff Blues compete in the Pro12 league, which includes teams from the Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as Italy. In addition, Cardiff Blues compete in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and the Heineken Cup. The Cardiff Blues have qualified for the Heineken Cup every season, and won the 2008-09 Anglo-Welsh Cup and the 2009–10 European Challenge Cup.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Formation
- 1.2 2003–04
- 1.3 2004–05
- 1.4 2005–06
- 1.5 2006–07
- 1.6 2007–08
- 1.7 2008–09
- 1.8 2009–10
- 1.9 2010–11
- 2 Colours
- 3 Identity controversy
- 4 Regional responsibilities
- 5 Home ground
- 6 Current standings
- 7 Management
- 8 Players
- 9 Head coaches
- 10 Results and statistics
- 11 ERC Elite Award
- 12 Club honours
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Until the beginning of the 2003–04 season, Welsh rugby was organised in a league pyramid, at the top of which were 9 professional clubs. The system was similar to the English Premiership and French Top 14 club systems. However, by the 2002–03 season it was clear for financial reasons that Wales could not support nine professional teams.
In a process instigated by the then CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), David Moffett, the nine clubs began the Introduction of regional rugby union teams in Wales.
An agreement was reached whereby Cardiff RFC would be allowed to form a "standalone" club, meaning that they would not have to amalgamate with any of the other 8 professional clubs. As a result, Cardiff RFC created the Cardiff Blues and a launch event took place at the Cardiff Hilton on 6 June 2003.
Cardiff Blues lost their first three matches, including friendlies against Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints and a Celtic League game against Glasgow. By the end of 2003, they had lost 12 matches and only won three (against Connacht, Leinster and Ospreys), all the wins coming at home. Increasingly, there were calls for head coach Dai Young to step down.
The 43–6 win over Ospreys was notable for the performance of fireman Lee Abdul. The semi-professional had been brought into the squad as cover during the 2003 Rugby World Cup and scored a record four tries from the wing. Unfortunately for Abdul, he suffered a serious injury in the next home game against the Newport Gwent Dragons.
In January the Cardiff Blues recorded Heineken Cup victories over English club Sale and French side Biarritz Olympique. The temporary signing of former Australian international Matt Cockbain seemed to revitalise the side, and his brief stay coincided with a six match unbeaten run which lasted until a dour 0–6 loss to the Llanelli Scarlets in March. Cardiff Blues finished the season as the lowest ranked Welsh club in the Celtic League having only managed one win against another Welsh side. They were however the highest try scorers in the league, scoring 73 tries.
Cardiff Blues finished the Celtic League 9th place, and recorded only one win in the Heineken Cup. Calls for Head Coach Dai Young to be removed intensified between November and January when the team went eight games without recording a victory. Following the 15–38 loss to Stade Français the players were booed from the field by their own supporters.
Finishing in a low position in the league meant that in order to qualify for the Heineken Cup, Cardiff Blues had to compete in a play-off game against the third place Italian side Arix Viadana. Cardiff Blues won this game 38–9, thus qualifying for the Heineken Cup through what the media described as the cat flap. This was only the second away win of the season, and the governing body made plans to ensure that performance on the field would dramatically improve the following season.
In the summer of 2005 funds were finally made available to sign new players allowing Dai Young to start rebuild the side. Former New Zealand No.8 Xavier Rush was among several new signings who gave the squad a much stronger look on paper. Also, a new custom built training head-quarters was established at Hensol in the outskirts of Cardiff. Previously the team had been training on public fields and in public gyms.
There was further reason for optimism when the Heineken Cup draw was announced. Cardiff Blues were matched with Italian minnows Calvisano, notoriously poor travellers USA Perpignan and the Leeds Tykes. Many believed that Cardiff Blues had a golden opportunity of finally making the Heineken Cup quarter finals.
Results did not improve immediately, with the 37–20 win over Saracens in October 2005 the highlight to a disappointing start to the season. However in the prematch announcement it was confirmed that rugby legend Jonah Lomu had agreed to join Cardiff Blues on a temporary basis as he tried to rebuild his career in time for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Lomu was recovering from a kidney transplant, but the signing gave notice of the team's renewed ambition. His home debut versus Calvisano was greeted by a capacity crowd and the signing was regarded as a marketing masterstroke. Results improved with wins over the Ospreys and the Newport Gwent Dragons in December.
In January 2006 the Cardiff Blues were knocked out of the Heineken Cup after losing 3–21 at home to Perpignan and then losing 3–48 to the relegation threatened Leeds Tykes. This formed part of a 5 match losing run, coinciding with the loss through injury of outside half Nicky Robinson. The poor run prompted the management to issue "final warnings" to under performing players. As had been the case in the two previous seasons, results improved in the latter months of the season, and in May, the Celtic League attendance record was broken when 15,327 watched Cardiff Blues beat Leinster 40–31 at the Millennium Stadium. The Cardiff Blues finished the league in 4th; the highest placed Welsh team.
More signings, including former New Zealand fullback Ben Blair, further enhanced the quality of the Cardiff Blues squad for the 2006–07 season. Several young players from the regional academy also became established players, including Chris Czekaj and Duane Goodfield. The emergence of other highly tipped young players (notably Bradley Davies and Tom James) encouraged the belief that Cardiff Blues can soon start challenging for major honours. London Wasps, Saracens and London Irish were all defeated in the Anglo-Welsh Cup group stages, however the Ospreys defeated the Cardiff Blues 27–10 in the semi final at the Millennium Stadium on 24 March 2007.
In the Heineken Cup, Cardiff Blues recorded their first win in France, beating Bourgoin 13–5. For their next game, the Cardiff Blues again played at the Millennium Stadium. This time hosting Leicester Tigers, they attracted their highest ever Heineken Cup crowd, with 26,309 spectators attending the game, although they lost they game by 17 points to 21 after being down to 14 men for a long period of the game. Cardiff Blues were finally knocked out of the Heineken Cup after successive losses to the champions, Munster, despite respectable performances (particularly at Munster's Thomond Park).
Cardiff Blues fared better in the domestic league, finishing second after having beaten Leinster at home to go top of the league, only for the Ospreys to win at Borders the next day to claim the title.
Further additions to the Cardiff Blues squad over the summer include Gareth Thomas, Paul Tito and Jason Spice, who was brought in to replace Mike Philips who signed to the Ospreys for a reported £180,000 a year.
The Cardiff Blues won their first two games of the season, beating the Ospreys at home in the opening match and extending their unbeaten home record to sixteen games, and recording an away win at Newport Gwent Dragons the following week to top the table. The Cardiff Blues extended their unbeaten home record to seventeen games the following week with a home victory against Glasgow, but subsequently lost their next home game against Leinster conceding two interception tries.
The Cardiff Blues responded to the defeat against Leinster with an away victory over Munster, only the second time in the history of the Celtic League that the Cardiff Blues maintained their position at the top of the league. The following week saw a 30–16 home victory against Connacht, with Gareth Thomas making his first appearance in Cardiff Blues colours, coming on off the bench after 50 minutes to replace wing Rhys Williams. The Cardiff Blues once again finished 2nd in the Celtic League.
The Anglo-Welsh Cup started well for the Cardiff Blues with a 32–15 bonus point win at home over Sale. Cardiff scoring four tries in the first 30 minutes with Gareth Thomas getting two of these on his first start for the Cardiff Blues. In the second week of the Anglo-Welsh Cup the Cardiff Blues lost 42–20 against Leicester Tigers, effectively knocking them out of the competition. In the final pool game of the competition the Cardiff Blues ended Bath RFCs twelve-month unbeaten home record, winning 6–14 at the Recreation Ground. This win however was insufficient, with Leicester progressing to the semi-finals as a result of having gained a bonus point in every pool match.
The Cardiff Blues began their Heineken Cup campaign with a bonus point 34–18 home win over Bristol, and followed this with a 13–13 away draw at Harlequins. In December, the Cardiff Blues secured a losing bonus point in their 12–6 loss against Stade Français in Paris, and subsequently won the return fixture 31–21 the following week. A 23–12 home win over Harlequins followed by a 17–0 away win at Bristol secured qualification to the quarter-final stages as the fifth seed. The Cardiff Blues subsequently lost their away quarter-final 41–17 against Toulouse on 6 April.
Very low key signings made in the summer; Ceri Sweeney, Aled Brew and Richard Mustoe. After a clear out of mostly squad players that saw seven players leave; Marc Stcherbina, Robert Sidoli, Nick Macleod, James Goode, Duane Goodfield, Tom Riley and Rhys Shellard.
Subsequently, Aled Brew has been loaned to Newport Gwent Dragons.
The Cardiff Blues finished 6th in the Celtic League, winning 8 games but losing 9. This was mainly due to their focus on the Heineken cup and the Anglo-Welsh cup.
Cardiff Blues were the only unbeaten team in the competition, winning their group, and beating Northampton 11–5 in the semi-final. The Cardiff Blues went on to win the final at Twickenham, 50–12 against Gloucester.
The Cardiff Blues began their Heineken Cup campaign with a 20–56 bonus point victory away to Calvisano. This was followed by a bonus point 37–24 win against Gloucester at the Millennium Stadium. A crowd of 27,114 set a new record for a Heineken Cup pool stage game for the Welsh region. The Cardiff Blues then claimed back-to-back victories over Biarritz in December, winning 21–17 at home followed by a 6–10 victory away.
Following the Christmas break, the Cardiff Blues recorded an away 12–16 victory over Gloucester despite being reduced to 14 men after Tom James was sent-off for a head butt on Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam. The final round of pool games saw the Cardiff Blues face Calvisano at home. A bonus point 62–20 win ensured that the Cardiff Blues remained the only unbeaten team in the pool stages of the 2008–09 Heineken Cup with the Cardiff Blues claiming the top seed and a home quarter-final.
The quarter-final against eighth seed and three-times Heineken Cup winners Toulouse was played in the Millennium Stadium with another record attendance of 36,778. The Cardiff Blues claimed a 9–6 victory in a defence dominated game. The semi-final against Leicester Tigers was also hosted at the Millennium Stadium. Despite being 12–26 down with six minutes remaining, the Cardiff Blues mounted a comeback tie the scores at 26–26 after 80 minutes and force extra time. With no further score in the 20 minutes of extra time, the game was forced into an historic penalty kick decider. The Cardiff Blues were defeated 7–6 following missed kicks by Tom James and Martyn Williams.
With the loss of Nicky Robinson, Jamie Robinson, Jason Spice and Ross Johnson; the Cardiff Blues signed Sam Norton-Knight from the New South Wales Waratahs, Gareth Cooper from Gloucester and Gavin Evans from Scarlets, as well as Casey Laulala from the Canterbury Crusaders who arrived in the November.
In the Celtic League, the Cardiff Blues finished fifth in the table, one point out of the playoffs; but secured a place in the 2010–11 Heineken Cup as the second-placed Welsh team. Their Heineken Cup campaign ended after the pool stage, in which they finished second to Toulouse and were not one of the two top second-place teams. However, this season was the first in which three second-place teams from the Heineken Cup parachuted into the European Challenge Cup, and the Cardiff Blues were one of three teams to qualify. They crushed Newcastle Falcons 55–20 in the quarterfinals and edged London Wasps 18–15, both on the road, to reach the final of the competition. The Cardiff Blues became the first Welsh side to win a European trophy after beating Toulon 28–21 in the final on 23 May at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.
With the unsuccessful Sam Norton-Knight signing for the Sanyo Wild Knights after not making the grade at outside half, the Blues signed Dan Parks of Glasgow Warriors and a Scottish International. He is the current record points scorer in the Celtic League.
The Cardiff Blues also re-signed Xavier Rush. After declaring his move to Ulster earlier in the season, Rush because of a change in personal matters wanted to stay at the Blues. Although he had signed a contract with Ulster, he managed to negotiate a release from this to continue his career with the Blues.
Another Kiwi has been signed by Cardiff in the summer, Michael Paterson from the Super 14 side the Hurricanes, where he played either in the second row or on the blindside. Press reports in New Zealand at the time of the signing indicated that he was on the fringes of the All-Black squad.
Cardiff Blues have also signed three English based Welshmen – two from Doncaster Knights, Bryn Griffiths (second row) and Tom Davies (prop) and one from London Welsh, Tom Brown (No.8).
Cardiff Blues released Andy Powell after he "lost his way" after the golf buggy incident whilst on international duty with Wales. Cardiff Blues have also released a number of squad players in the summer including Robin Sowden-Taylor (Dragons), Scott Morgan (Dragons) and Dai Flanagan (Ospreys).
On their inception, the Cardiff Blues kit corresponded with the traditional Cardiff RFC colours of Cambridge blue and black. The kit for the subsequent season was a variation of these colours with white being used as an alternative strip in the case of a colour clash with the opposition.
In 2006, Cardiff Blues changed their playing strip in a decision widely interpreted as a move away from the old Cardiff RFC identity, as for the first time black was not included alongside the blue.
At the event launching the Cardiff Blues brand in June 2003, the Chief Executive, Robert Norster said, "A huge amount of effort has been made to ensure that the past 127 years of club traditions are not lost. We are delighted by the way these aspects have been respected and retained within the new modern brand." This close association with Cardiff RFC has led to feelings of resentment from members and supporters of other rugby clubs, notably Pontypridd.
There were repeated calls for Cardiff Blues to drop the "Cardiff" part of their name in order to sever links with the old Cardiff RFC identity and to move away from the traditional light blue kit worn by CRFC. Proponents of this idea point to the Super Rugby tournament where teams such as the Bulls and Crusaders play with no geographic locator in their name. These calls intensified when the Celtic Warriors regional team was dissolved in 2004, bringing old rivals Pontypridd within the catchment area of the Cardiff Blues region. However, there was significant opposition to any such move within the ranks of the club, given that the Cardiff club had won standalone status at a cost of £1,000,000 when the rebranding took place in 2003 (No other club or company have been involved with Cardiff RFC Ltd).
Initially, the Cardiff Blues' region covered only the City of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. However, this was expanded upon the demise of the Celtic Warriors region after one season. Cardiff RFC Ltd employ development officers who work with schools and clubs across the region and run a rugby academy for elite players aged 16 and above.
From their inception in 2003 the Cardiff Blues played home games at the Cardiff Arms Park, with some high profile fixtures played at the neighbouring Millennium Stadium, such as the 2008–09 Heineken Cup semi-final versus Leicester Tigers. From the beginning of the 2009–10 season Cardiff Blues moved to the new Cardiff City Stadium at Leckwith, with the first home game a friendly against Leicester which they lost 5–14, the attendance was 16,000 However, declining demand and supporter dissatisfaction led to several home games being moved to the Arms Park in the 2011-12 season. The games against Connacht on 10 February 2012 and Ulster on 17 February 2012 achieved capacity crowds and proved popular with supporters.
On 8 May 2012 it was announced that the 20-year lease between Cardiff City F.C. and the Blues had been broken by mutual consent. From the 2012-13 season the Blues have returned to playing home matches at the Arms Park, although some games may be hosted at the Cardiff City Stadium should demand exceed capacity at the Arms Park.
|Club||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Points For||Points Against||Points Difference||Tries For||Tries Against||Try Bonus||Losing Bonus||Points|
|7||Newport Gwent Dragons||15||6||0||9||260||302||−42||21||26||0||4||28|
If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
|Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places. Qualification for the Heineken Cup is based on each country's allocation, i.e. three highest–ranked Irish teams, three highest–ranked Welsh teams, both Italian teams and both Scottish teams. Updated 1 March 2014. Source: RaboDirect PRO12|
The Cardiff Blues had been coached by Dai Young since they were founded, until the summer of 2011 when he moved to London Wasps. The Blues were coached by Young's former assistants, Wales sevens assistant coach Gareth Baber and former Blues Academy Director Justin Burnell between 2011-2012 before appointing former Scarlets and Worcester Warriors Coach Phil Davies. Xavier Rush joined as Defence coach in July 2012 after retiring from playing due to injury.
On 3 March following a poor run of results, Head Coach Phil Davies resigned 6 match's before the end of the season. His assistants Dale McIntosh and Paul John was named the caretaker coaches for the remainder of the 2013–14 season.
Players In 2014–2015
- Craig Mitchell from Exeter Chiefs
- Ieuan Jones from Newport Gwent Dragons
- George Watkins from Bristol Rugby
- Isaia Tuifua from Taranaki
- Tavis Knoyle from Gloucester Rugby
- Josh Turnbull from Scarlets
Players Out 2014–2015
- Andries Pretorius to Worcester Warriors
- Leigh Halfpenny to Toulon
- Sam Warburton to Welsh Rugby Union
- Robin Copeland to Munster
- Bradley Davies to London Wasps
British and Irish Lions
The following players have been selected to play for the British and Irish Lions touring squads while playing for the Cardiff Blues.
|Gethin Jenkins||Wales||2005, 2009|
|Tom Shanklin||Wales||2005, 2009|
|Martyn Williams||Wales||2005, 2009|
|Leigh Halfpenny||Wales||2009, 2013|
|Jamie Roberts||Wales||2009, 2013|
Notable former players
Players who have won over 20 international caps and have represented Cardiff Blues in the past:
|Jonah Lomu||Wing||New Zealand|
|Pieter Muller||Centre||South Africa|
|Kort Schubert||Flanker||United States|
|T. Rhys Thomas||Hooker||Wales|
|Gareth Baber, Justin Burnell||2011–2012|
|Dale McIntosh (Caretaker)||2014|
|Paul John (Caretaker)|
Results and statistics
* Includes 2 "Free Weekends" which equated to 4 points each.
|2003–04||Quarter-final||Edinburgh Rugby 33 – 16 Cardiff Blues|
|Quarter-final||Leinster 34 – 3 Cardiff Blues|
|2009–10 (ACC)||Quarter-final||Newcastle Falcons 20 – 55 Cardiff Blues|
|Semi-final||London Wasps 15 – 18 Cardiff Blues|
|Final||Cardiff Blues 28 – 21 Toulon|
|Quarter-final||Cardiff Blues 9 – 6 Toulouse|
|Semi-final||Cardiff Blues 26 – 26 (6–7 penalties) Leicester Tigers|
|Quarter-final||Toulouse 41 – 17 Cardiff Blues|
|Semi-final||Cardiff Blues 18 – 29 Gloucester|
|Semi-final||Cardiff Blues 11 – 5 Northampton Saints|
|Final||Cardiff Blues 50 – 12 Gloucester|
|Semi-final||Cardiff Blues 10 – 27 Ospreys|
ERC Elite Award
In 2004 Cardiff Blues received the ERC Elite Award for having played 50 games in the Heineken Cup. This record began in 1995 when Cardiff RFC recorded an away draw at Bordeaux, and continued following the reorganisation of Welsh rugby in 2003, due to the club standing alone and rebranding as Cardiff Blues. ERC statistics show that the team has played 92 games in Europe as 1st Cardiff RFC then as Cardiff Blues (from the start of 2010/2011 season) while the Cardiff Blues' muddled marketing only includes the period since 2003 - 49 games.
Blues players who have been awarded 50 tournament caps are:
- Anglo-Welsh Cup – 2008–09
- European Challenge Cup – 2009–10 (first Welsh team to win a European Trophy)
- Phil Davies: Cardiff Blues director of rugby resigns
- "Pro12: Hooker Matthew Rees to lead Cardiff Blues". BBC. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Cardiff Blues : Regional Clubs
- Welsh Rugby Union : Clubs Overwhelmingly Back Moffett
- (Bridgend RFC; Caerphilly RFC; Cardiff RFC; Ebbw Vale RFC; Llanelli RFC; Neath RFC; Newport RFC; Pontypridd RFC; Swansea RFC)
- Agreement Over Five-club Funding in Wales
- 'Just let us be' – icWales
- Williams, David (2003-10-26). "Rugby Union: HOT STUFF". Sunday Mirror.
- Young praise for Blues capture Cockbain – icWales
- Millennium Stadium : Regional Preview: Cardiff Blues
- Who will carry the can for weary Blues? – icWales
- Dragons spare Blues blushes – icWales
- 'Time for Blues to deliver' – Peter Thomas – icWales
- Blues dealt a decent hand – icWales
- Lomu's stint with Blues not a conspicuous success – icWales
- The Lomu effect – icWales
- Dai: I never said I'd go – icWales
- The incredible hulk with a big future – icWales
- Another James making a big rugby impact! – icWales
- 'We can look the big boys in the eye' – icWales
- "Ospreys recruit Phillips & Gough". BBC News. 2007-04-25.
- "Blues 17–15 Ospreys". BBC News. 2007-08-31.
- Cardiff Blues : Cardiff Blues 32 Glasgow 16
- Cardiff Blues : Cardiff Blues 19 Leinster 30
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/my_club/cardiff_blues/7036232.stml. Missing or empty
- Cardiff Blues : Blues Bonus Win Against Sale
- BBC Sport: Rugby Calvisano 20–56 Cardiff Blues
- BBC Sport: Blues 37–24 Gloucester
- Cardiff Blues: Cardiff Blues 37 Gloucester 24
- BBC Sport: Cardiff Blues 21–17 Biarritz
- BBC Sport: Biarritz 6–10 Cardiff Blues
- BBC Sport: Gloucester 12–16 Blues
- BBC Sport: Cardiff Blues 62–20 Calvisano
- BBC Sport: Cardiff Blues 9–6 Toulouse
- BBC Sport: Cardiff Blues 26–26 Leicester (aet)
- Pope, Bruce (2010-05-23). "Cardiff Blues 28–21 Toulon". BBC Sport (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille: BBC Wales). Retrieved 2010-05-24.
- Fans see red over new Blues strip – icWales
- Jackson, Peter (2006-11-02). "Why the anger lives on at Ponty". Daily Mail (London).
- Jones' radical Blues-print for future – icWales
- Blues will not abandon Cardiff – icWales
- Super 14 teams
- Cardiff to stay – icWales
- "Cardiff Blues 5–14 Leicester". BBC News. 2009-08-21.
- Competition Rule 3.5 "Summary of Key Rules". Pro 12. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- Cardiff Blues Squad
- Did not qualify for the 2003-05 Celtic Cup. The tournament was stopped after the 2004–05 season.
- Cardiff Blues official site
- Cardiff RFC official site
- the Arms Park Fan Site
- TalkCardiffrugby.net Fan forum
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