“We have broken all records”: Cardiff pubs get Six Nations boost

The Six Nations screenings have brought pub-goers back to the city’s taprooms, with some pubs reporting higher sales than before the pandemic.

A pub full of rugby fans.
Pubs in the city centre have been completely packed for Six Nations fixtures. Image by Elliot Topham.

Pubs in Cardiff are back to being packed, thanks to Six Nations rugby screenings and relaxations in social distancing rules in Wales.

The home matches against Scotland and France also saw the city’s pubs being completely stuffed with local fans as well as visitors who came to watch the match from across Europe.

“Its been absolutely rammed,” said Gerraint Howells, manager of the Owain Glyndwr, a popular pub near the castle. “One of our sweet spots is sport, and we are so close to the stadium… you know everyone just comes in before and after the games,” said Howells.

The Welsh restrictions surrounding the spread of the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus had caused massive losses to hospitality venues in the Welsh capital, with some pubs and restaurants reporting up to an 80% reduction in business.

Martyn Jones at the beer taps.
Martyn Jones, supervisor at Yard, says that business has been picking up steadily since February.

The Six Nations matches are also the first major sporting events in the city since restrictions on large events and face coverings were relaxed. The three fixtures set at the city’s Principality stadium are expected to each bring in about £20 million to the city’s economy, according to the WRU.

“Since we’ve been open without restrictions, we have been a lot busier than before the pandemic… we have had some record weeks,” said Howells. Some of the increase in business is also because of some other pubs shutting down through the pandemic, according to Howells.

Another pub in the city centre popular with fans for their rugby screenings also saw tremendous growth due to the Six Nations fixtures. “The Six Nations has just done wonders for us honestly, the fact that they didn’t move it to England and kept it in Wales has brought our sales through the roof,” said Abigail Teague, the supervisor at the pub.

The bar at Owain Glyndwr.
The Owain Glyndwr Pub underwent a major refurbishment project during the pandemic, attracting even more customers.

“A lot of people were deterred by table service and not being able to stand at the bar and stuff like that, which a lot of our regulars are quite passionate about… as soon as table service (rules) were lifted, it (the sales) has picked up again,” said Teague. “We have managed to break quite a few location records… I think just because people have missed it for the past few years, everyone came out in double the numbers.”

The Philharmonic, another popular pub on St Mary’s street for sports and music fans, has also been performing better than before the pandemic. But the manager, Dan, is not so sure about the reason for the increase in business. “Its complicated,” said Dan. “I think a lot of people turned 18 during the pandemic, and they’re going out to drink for the first time. There are also less places to go, a lot of pubs have shut down.”

Bethan Fulthorpe, the supervisor at The Cambrian Tap, said the Six Nations fixtures made sure the pub was packed, following a dry spell of customers during the Omicron spread. “We had to close down for a couple of weeks, we had no customers coming in… our intake on one of the days was about £22,” said Fulthorpe. “But during Six Nations, it was so packed that we couldn’t really walk around anywhere.”

A balcony-view of The Philharmonic
The Philharmonic was affected by table service restrictions, which was a major detriment according to manager Dan.

The final six nations fixtures, Wales v/s Italy, Ireland v/s Scotland and France v/s England are on 19th March; find out the best places to watch the games before they’re all booked!