Cardiff Rugby can confirm the Boxing Day derby against the Scarlets will be played behind closed doors following last night’s Welsh Government announcement.
The club were expecting a capacity crowd for the United Rugby Championship (URC) encounter at Cardiff Arms Park on December 26.
This is no longer possible after the Welsh Government ruled that all sporting events in Wales must be staged behind closed doors from Boxing Day.
Cardiff Rugby explored alternative options, including the postponement of the fixture until crowds were permitted, however permission from URC was not granted.
A Cardiff Rugby spokesperson said: “It’s very disappointing news as a Welsh derby on Boxing Day is one of the highlights of the rugby calendar and we were anticipating a sell-out crowd at Cardiff Arms Park.
“However, with rates of Covid-19 accelerating due to the new omicron variant, the health, safety and general well-being of our people and the general public must come first.
“We explored some alternative options but these were unfortunately not feasible and we will play the fixture as scheduled on Boxing Day.
“We thank all supporters, partners and sponsors for their understanding as we unfortunately go back behind closed doors and wish everyone a happy and healthy Christmas.”
Latest figures show omicron cases are rising quickly in all parts of Wales. The overall rate of coronavirus infections is also rising in Wales and now stands at just under 550 cases per 100,000 people.
A £3m Spectator Sports Fund will be available to support clubs and sporting venues affected by the new measures to protect public health, with further discussions due to take place.
Vaughan Gething, Economy Minister said: “Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year. Unfortunately, the new omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.
“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.
“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.
“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”
Cardiff Rugby will confirm details of a refund policy in due course and contact all season members, hospitality holders and ticket purchasers