Judgement Day III promises to live up to its name when the best of regional rugby meet under one roof at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 25th April.
Even if Wales head coach Warren Gatland is not quite going to sit in ‘judgement’ on the outcome of Welsh rugby’s annual regional derby day encounter, he admits watching his international players pit their wits in competition against each other will inform his decision making when it comes to picking his 45-man Rugby World Cup Squad just over a month later.
Gatland names a RWC training squad on 7th June, which will embark on a series of camps before playing warm-up Dove Men Test fixtures against Ireland and then Italy at the Millennium Stadium in the summer.
Injury permitting, pundits will imagine the bulk of the impressive 34-man 2015 RBS 6 Nations title chasers will be named, but that still means room for manoeuvre and the potential for a traditional late burst by a hitherto unfancied player or two for RWC glory – which would almost certainly come from the regional game.
“We have been planning in earnest for this World Cup for some time now, but there are some things you cannot plan for,” said Gatland.
“The regions are approaching the business end of the season and when we name our preliminary RWC squad in June form is going to be a major factor in our decision making process.
“All of the national squad coaches will be watching even more closely on Judgement Day this year.
“There is nothing like a derby match to put players under pressure to perform and with the added extra factor of being played out at the Millennium Stadium it should be a revealing day from a coach’s point of view.
“We have a good idea of what our best team is at the moment and we have been really happy with the players in the Six Nations and particularly with the performance against Italy in that final weekend when they did everything that was asked of them.
“But there are always players that time it right and come into consideration at World Cup time when form becomes an incredibly important factor.
“You only have to look at the Sam Warburton who was named captain ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup after Matthew Rees missed out through injury and the partnership formed with Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau in the back row, to see that.
“The door is open for someone to not only play themselves into the squad but even into the starting line-up and all eyes will be on Judgement Day in April to see if someone can put their hands up.
“Judgment Day is a great concept and a hugely popular event with the fans, but in a World Cup year it is just the kind of event which the coaches need to help inform the decision making process."
Cardiff Blues take on the Ospreys at the national ground on Saturday 25th April at 2.30pm - before the Newport Gwent Dragons face the Scarlets at 4.45pm in the GUINNESS PRO12 double header.
Tickets are available at a new price for 2015 of just £10 from WRU.wales/tickets, the WRU ticket office on Westgate Street, each of the four regions (see below for full details), at local Tesco stores or by calling ticketmaster on 0844 847 1881.
FULL TICKET INFO:
Tickets for Judgement Day III, costing £10 each (not including booking fees), can be purchased from:
WRU Ticket Office: 02920 822432 (www.wru.wales/tickets)
Cardiff Blues Ticket Office : 029 2030 2030 (www.cardiffblues.com/tickets)
or by calling ticketmaster on 0844 847 1881