To the East of Washingto DC lies the Robert F Kennedy Stadium, home since 1996 for DC United, an american major league soccer franchise. The stadium can best be described as "tired" but was chosen as the venue for Wales v South Africa. Th 17:00 kick off coincided with worsening weather in Washington and the steady pre match rain, lack of facilities pitchside with poor comms to transmit images ensured my mood matched the blackening sky. So these pre match images are a reflection of my first thoughts on that first rugby union international in Washington DC's RFK Stadium.
Despite the rain the obligatory welsh fan in a daffodil hat was enjoying herself as the teams ran on to the pitch but before this Warren Gatland, the Welsh coach, and Matthew Carley, the referee, seemed less pleased with the conditions. Though the Burlington Male Voice choir did their best to raise pre match spirits with a rousing rendition traditional favourite Cwm Rhondda as the stadium was filling although it did not seem to soften the intent stare of the security that was in the ground.
With the players on the ptich for the anthems the choir sank the anthems and left the pitch for the game to start. The choir had been practiscing when I arrived a couple of hours before kick off and whilst most of them then stood milling around in one corner of the ground, one man with the impression he had seen it all before, wisely took to a chair as he waited for the game to start and the rain to stop.
Wales won the game 22-20, a game where the opening 30 minutes would not convert you to rugby union as both sides struggled with a wet ball and greasy surface and defence stifled the attack. The wi-fi was never resolved but by the end of the night Washington was in a very happy mood as their ice hockey team won game 3 of the Stanley Cup (3-1) to take a 2-1 lead over Vegas. They love their sport in the USA but rugby union still has a long way to go.