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Thomas pays tribute to Arms Park crowd

First Team News | 18th February 2024

Ben Thomas has paid tribute to the Arms Park crowd as 14-man Cardiff battled to hold onto a losing bonus-point against Connacht.

The Blue and Blacks led for large periods despite Rey Lee-Lo’s unfortunate red card after just 14 minutes. Thomas gave his side the initiative with the opening try and Lopeti Timani crossed after the break. 

But once Connacht edged in front there was no way back for Cardiff in front of a sold out crowd boosted by the annual Regional Clubs Day. 

More than 5,000 packed into the North Stand and Terrace for the event, which coincided with the BKT United Rugby Championship’s new Origins Round and Thomas has expressed his enormous gratitude.

He said: “Part of what makes it special for us is playing in front of our clubs, especially the younger guys. Hopefully we can inspire a few boys to really give rugby a go. 

“But the crowd size in itself is probably testament to how we've played as a team this year. We've had periods where we've given comp tickets before to youngsters and we’ve had about 5,000 here. So to get a full house like that probably shows just brand of rugby we're playing is attracting the fans in. 

“It's brilliant for us to see the kids after the game. It's something we don't really take for granted We were all there once, we were all trying to get autographs off the players. It takes 10 minutes out of our day and just means the world to them.”

It was a disappointing result for the Blue and Blacks, who could still have earned victory despite their numerical disadvantage. 

Thomas admits there were errors in game management but he could not fault the fighting performance of his side.

He added: “I’m very proud. We spoke a half-time and after the game about how much fight we showed today. It would have been easy to accept our fate when we had first the red card and then the yellow card after that but we stuck in it really well

“We got ourselves a bonus point at the end of it. So overall we're pleased with the effort. It’s tough but we've just got to share the workload a bit more between the rest of the backs, especially the outside backs. 

“I think the boys in the backfield probably worked the hardest. They had to cover a lot of space and make up for that lost number. But we managed it OK. 

“But we let them off the hook a few times. We are poor with a few of our exits and a few of our kick-offs as well. We let them off with a few easy entries to the game and ultimately, they're in there. That let them get into it.”