Cardiff Arms Park Hospitalised
NEWS: One of rugby football’s most famous grounds, Cardiff Arms Park, has been converted into a hospital to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
Actually it has become a part of Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig – Dragon’s Heart Hospital, named by popular vote as part of the ancient Welsh belief that it was the defeat of the white dragon (the Saxons) that had kept Wales Welsh.
Wales has suffered over 6 0000 cases of infection with some 500 deaths. Most of those infected are in Cardiff, as is the case of those killed. Coronavirus is the new white dragon that the Arms Park is helping to defeat.
The park on the banks of the River Taff was near the Cardiff Arms Inn, a popular place. And so the park became Cardiff Arms Park, which became a sporting venue of great historic importance. In 1876 the Cardiff RFC was founded there. In 1884, the first international was played there – Wales vs Ireland. Since then many great teams have played great matches at the Arms Park.
The first time a national anthem was sung at a sporting event was at Cardiff Arms Park when the All Blacks came with their haka and the Welsh crowd countered with Land of <My Fathers. And Wales won the match 3-0 though the All Blacks still feel they were cheated out of a try by Bob Deans whose dying words were “It was a try, you know.” Oh, there were many famous matches from the day when they beat the Springboks 17-0 and Gwyn Nicholls (“Prince Gwyn”) was a magician. And there was the day when the Taff broke its banks and the referee offered the Springbok captain and the Welsh captain the offer of having the match stopped – and both voted to play on with the Springboks winning 3-0, and on and on to the famous try which Phil Bennett started and Gareth Edwards scored for the Barbarians to beat the All Blacks in 1973.
The ground became the sole possession of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1970 but then the national Stadium was built next door in the late 1980s and then there was the move to the new Millennium Stadium.
Rugby continues at the Arms Park, the headquarters of the PRO14 team Cardiff Blues and the home venue for the Welsh Women’s team.
Now with Wales and its health service under pressure, the Arms Park is becoming a hospital. With support from the Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff Council and Cardiff Blues, the Principality Stadium and surrounding areas were identified as suitable venues to accommodate the anticipated increase in demand, and Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig – the Dragon’s Heart Hospital was born.
Phase A of the transition was completed over Easter weekend and the hospital will open its 350-bed facilities to patients. Once completed, the home of Cardiff Blues will house a staff welfare centre, catering facilities and the headquarters for the hospital’s facilities management.
Cardiff Blues chief executive, Richard Holland said: “As soon as we were made aware of the plans to turn the Principality Stadium into a hospital, we offered the entire Arms Park site to assist with the project.
“Our operations team have been working tirelessly with colleagues at the Welsh Rugby Union, Principality Stadium and the local health board and the Arms Park has now been transformed.
“The site will initially act as a logistical base during the construction phase of the hospital and once completed we will have welfare, catering and other facilities available to assist the brilliant NHS staff.
“These are uncertain and unprecedented times but we are proud to be able to support the NHS by making our facilities available.”
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Chief Executive Len Richards added: “I’d like to thank the Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff Council and Cardiff Blues for their commitment to the Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig Hospital.
“We have never undertaken a project this big before and in such a short space of time. We are planning on the basis of what we think we might need to ensure we are as ready as we can be.
“I sincerely hope we don’t need to use all of the capacity but it is far better to have developed plans based upon the scientific evidence and modelling of the experts.
“The staffing levels and type of patients received at the hospital is part of our planning and is constantly being refined in line with the trajectory of the Coronavirus. The facility will allow us to free up capacity at our other hospital sites so that we can continue to provide services to patients with other health conditions.
“Please help us to help those who need our hospitals the most by staying home, washing your hands and heeding the clinical advice to keep you and your families safe.”
As Roy Campbell wrote: “Still is beauty out of harshness bred.”