There is something truly magical about the city of Cardiff when Wales are playing a rugby union test match. You can almost taste the buzz of excitement and anticipation. The streets are full of colour, with supporters wearing bright red jerseys and red scarves around their necks. The dragon on the Welsh flag flutters on every street corner as street traders try to sell their stock of scarves, hats and flags. People suddenly find themselves compelled to purchase ridiculous hats in the shape of a daffodil or dragon. There is a tremendous feeling of national pride and even people who don’t speak a word of Welsh find themselves singing Sosban Fach or Calon Lan with tears in their eyes. Beer flows like rain sodden rivers and we are thankful that Cardiff’s most famous brewery, SA Brain, is busy brewing just minutes away from the city centre.
One reason why there is such an amazing atmosphere in Cardiff is because the stadium, the magnificent Millennium Stadium, is in the heart of the city. Most international stadiums are located outside of any major city, but the Millennium Stadium proudly sits on the banks of the River Taff. Many players have openly stated that this is their favourite stadium as the atmosphere and noise if like anywhere else.
One of the most treasured test matches is when Wales play New Zealand, otherwise known as the All Blacks. On match day, God must be inundated with prayers from Welsh fans asking for that miracle. As of 2014, it has been 61 years since Wales beat the All Blacks, an embarrassingly long time. And in recent years, every time the All Blacks arrive, there is always a just a glimmer of hope. But each time this glimmer has quickly been distinguished by the formidable All Blacks.
Early this month (November 2014), I was in Cardiff covering a pre-match hospitality event, but took some time to photograph the atmosphere at the bottom of St Mary’s Street. With my Canon 1000D and a 70-300mm lens I discreetly leaned against lampposts and shop doorways and watched the world go by. This selection (and there are more on my website) was taken in the free 30 minutes I had before going onto the hospitality event and over 4 hours before kick off. By then Cardiff was bouncing! And by 7pm the inevitable had happened. The All Blacks had won again!