Dai Young has welcomed the return of sporting crowds in Wales and hopes the Arms Park faithful will boost his Cardiff side when they welcome Leinster to the capital on Saturday (KO 7.35pm)
The majority of the Blue and Blacks’ squad haven’t played in front of a live rugby crowd since the October derby victory over Dragons at the Arms Park.
With the narrow Champions Cup defeat to English champions Harlequins being played behind closed doors, Young says there is an excitement within the squad once again as they anticipate a memorable occasion at the capital on Saturday.
The former Wales international said: “It’s important to have the crowd back. That gives everyone the buzz and the excitement. When we have had crowds here this season they’ve been excellent and played a big part.
“Who knows if it would’ve been a determining factor against Quins, but the players are just really excited to play in front of a crowd again.
“Hopefully they’ll come out in their numbers and are nice and loud like they have been this season.
“We’ve got a part to play in that, doing the job on the field and giving them something to cheer about.
“That’s why we play rugby. Playing rugby without a crowd is better than not playing, but only marginally.”
It’s been a frustrating couple of months for Young’s squad, with a number of disruptions causing matches to be postponed both in the United Rugby Championship and in Europe.
But Young insists there is no better test than facing the defending champions as Cardiff look to inject some momentum into their campaign.
“Obviously it’s not ideal for us as we’re struggling to get any momentum at the minute,” explained Young.
“We knew we’d be rusty against Edinburgh, and felt we’d be better against Harlequins, which was the case. It would’ve been nice to continue to build on that against Toulouse, but that wasn’t the case.
“It will be interesting to see where we are again this weekend on the back of a week without playing.
“But one thing that does focus the mind is playing against Leinster. It will be a real big challenge for us and something we’ve spoken about as a squad.
“We’re looking at our win percentages with internationals, which is a lot better than when they’re not available.
“There’s a big onus over the next month to get the results because we’re only as strong as every performance. That’s true whether we’ve got internationals or not.
“Whatever team they send down will be a quality team but we’ve got to be building. I was happy with the direction we were going towards when we went to South Africa.
“We weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we were playing good rugby and challenging.
“Then we went through the quarantine issues, followed by Covid issues and Edinburgh wasn’t good enough. But it was a real good performance against Quins and we should’ve won considering the position we were in.”
Wales prop duo, Rhys Carré and Dillon Lewis, have been made available for selection after being released from the national set-up for this weekend’s action.
Young is delighted to have the pair in contention as he had further positive news regarding back row James Botham following his head injury at Edinburgh a fortnight ago.
The director of rugby added: “Obviously we lose the other squad members but we’re thankful to get Rhys and Dillon back.
“I’ve always found that dealing with Wayne has been an easy process. If it makes sense for both parties, it tends to happen.
“He obviously wanted more game-time for the other two boys, which we’re more than happy to accommodate.
“Apart from the internationals, Jim Botham will come back into the reckoning this week. But otherwise it’s more or less the 23 that were available for Toulouse, minus the internationals.”
Join us at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday as the Blue and Blacks welcome defending URC champions, Leinster to the capital! Tickets start from just £10 for adults and £1 for children!