In the world of sport, Cardiff has a great deal to shout about.
Not only has Cardiff produced some of the world’s best footballers of recent years in Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs it is also home to the world’s finest retractable roof sporting arena – the iconic Millennium Stadium where the Welsh national rugby team play right in the heart of the city. As well as professional rugby region the Cardiff Blues, the city also has Premiership football team Cardiff City and first class cricket county Glamorgan, whose home the SWALEC Stadium is a regular venue for test matches and one day internationals.
Cardiff Blues had five players in the British & Irish Lions squad, which was victorious in the recent test series against Australia, in Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Gethin Jenkins, Alex Cuthbert and tour captain Sam Warburton.
Sam attended Whitchurch High School in Cardiff, alongside fellow pupil and friend Gareth Bale and gold medal Olympic cyclist Geraint Thomas. Now how many schools in the world can boast such a great sporting pedigree?
For Sam Cardiff is a city which he is immensely proud of.
Sam said: “I was born and have lived in Cardiff all my life. The thing I love about Cardiff is that you are never more than 15 minutes away from anywhere, whether it’s the Bay, the city centre or the countryside. It’s not too big and not too small and there’s plenty to do. I live in north Cardiff so the countryside is very accessible for me. Cardiff might be smaller than cities such as London and Birmingham but there’s plenty going on.”
Sam is also proud of the fact that his hometown is recognised worldwide as a great venue for major sporting and entertainment events.
He said: “You’ve got all the sporting events such as rugby’s Six Nations International Series with the Cardiff Blues and Premiership football with Cardiff City. And you also have big events such as the concerts in the Millennium Stadium which is a fantastic venue.”
When not training or playing rugby Sam said the city has everything needed to relax and recharge the batteries.
“The St David’s Shopping Centre is a great place to wander and do a bit of shopping and we also go up the Wenallt (a mountain in north Cardiff) to take the family dogs for a walk and then go to visit friends and family.
“I try to relax as much as possible when I’m not playing and just to try to get away from rugby. I like to go down to Cardiff Bay and Penarth Marina for a meal with my fiancée Rachel.”
As a youngster he regularly watched his rugby heroes playing at Cardiff Arms Park – which this season has a new artificial pitch to encourage an exciting brand of flowing rugby.
Sam recalled: “I had a season ticket and used to watch my rugby hero, Wales international Martyn Williams, play every week, so it was nice to get to play with him. I remember sitting in the grandstand and there was always, like now, a great atmosphere. The Arms Park is a pretty special place for Cardiff and it’s our home.”
Cardiff’s great sporting venues
The retractable roofed Millennium Stadium:
Home to Wales’ rugby team and music venue for artists including Paul McCartney, Rihanna and Bruce Springsteen. Capacity 74,500.
Cardiff City Stadium:
Home to Premiership football team Cardiff City. There are plans to increase
capacity to 33,500.
Home to first class cricket county Glamorgan and venue for England test matches and one day internationals. Capacity 17,000.
Cardiff Arms Park:
Home to the rugby region the Cardiff Blues. Capacity 12,500.
International Sports Village:
Currently the 50-metre (164 ft) Olympic standard Cardiff International Swimming Pool, Cardiff Ice Rink and Cardiff International White Water centre, for canoing and kayaking.
Upon completion, it will also have an indoor snow centre with real snow for skiing and snowboarding.