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Saturday, 1 February, 2003, 12:15 GMT
All behind the Blacks?
The Celtic League final
BBC Sport Interactive's Sean Davies samples the pre-match atmosphere in Cardiff ahead of the Celtic League final.

Neath captain Gareth Llewellyn called for all Wales to get behind the All Blacks to give his club a fighting chance against the mighty Munstermen - and an early straw poll would suggest he may have just about got his wish.

If the event hasn't quite managed to capture the flavour of a Six Nations day, the fans have still been out in force in Cardiff, determined to enjoy the first of many big finals days in the city in 2003.

Of the Welsh contingent, black jerseys dominate as the Gnoll faithful have travelled east in their droves.

In an encouraging sign for those who advocate regional rugby in Wales, though, it seems that a successful Welsh team has managed to draw support from a wider spectrum of Welsh society.

Let's win this fight first and we'll get back to scrapping each other later

Jeff Felton, Dunvant
Janet Evans from Pontypool was in town with her two daffodil-wielding sons:

"I only usually come to Cardiff for the internationals," she said, "but it sounded like such a good day out."

It's not only the neutral supporters who are carrying the All Black flag for the day.

Jeff Felton is a long-suffering Swansea fan, but he has put aside local rivalries for the chance to get to a cup final.

"Well, it's Wales against Ireland, innit," he said, "we don't get much success on the pitch these days so I take it where I can get it - my mates'll back me up on that one!"

But doesn't Neath's flat refusal to get into bed with the spurned Swans leave him yearning for a Munster win?

"Aw, I dunno about that. Let's win this fight first and we'll get back to scrapping each other later."

Neath?! The bag-snatching capital of Wales!

John Cray, Cardiff
In the claustrophoic world of Welsh rugby, some would consider Jeff's attitude unconventional. Even enlightened.

For others it's heresy.

In the 'City Arms' just opposite the stadium, Cardiff fan John Cray is settling down to his first pint of Brains of the day. He plans to watch the game on TV, but won't be venturing across the road to cheer on the Blacks.

"Neath?! The bag-snatching capital of Wales!," he cries, "No! Of course I won't be supporting them.

"It's Cardiff or nothing for me. I'll support the Neath boys when they pull on the red of Wales but other than that - forget it!"

Munster

We'll follow our boys anywhere, especially after what they just did for us against Gloucester

Brian Connors, Munster
While the Welsh struggle for unity, Munster have history and tradition to back their provincial sides - and the fans have shown their allegiance by crossing the Irish Sea in force.

It's not quite the full Munster army - forthcoming Six Nations trips plus the Heineken Cup quarter-final in Leicester have seen to that.

But still the red jerseys seem to be the dominant force along Westgate Street.

The Munstermen are here to make a weekend of it.

Brian Connors and his party arrived on the ferry in Swansea on Thursday night, and after a night of chaos in Swansea's second city they moved their act to the capital.

The party continued on Friday night, but aching heads are shrugged aside as the festivities show no sign of slowing.

"We love coming to Wales," said Brian through another pint of bitter (he never drinks Guinness outside of Ireland, he explains).

"We've been here for every Six Nations trip in the last 10 years.

"We were here for the Heineken Cup final last May (expletives concerning Neil Back deleted), and this just gives us another chance to travel.

"We'll follow our boys anywhere, especially after what they just did for us against Gloucester.

"This is our day. No more final misery for us."


The final

SEASON STATS

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING RUGBY
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31 Jan 03 | Celtic
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