The 10th February 2012 will go down as a momentous occasion in the history of Cardiff Rugby as Cardiff Blues made a long awaited return to our iconic home, Cardiff Arms Park.
Since the start of the 2009/10 season we had been playing home games at the new Cardiff City Stadium in Leckwith, home of Cardiff City FC, with a 20 year agreement in place between the two organisations to make Cardiff Blues a tenant at the ground.
Despite opposition from a number of supporters initially, the move was deemed a success in the first two seasons as average attendances jumped from between 7,500-8,500 to over 10,000 for the 2009/10 and 2010/11 campaigns.
However, the start of the 2011/12 season had seen the average attendances at Leckwith drop back towards the 7,000 mark, and with pressure growing on new Chief Executive Richard Holland the decision was taken to move the home game against Connacht back to the Arms Park.
The decision was met with praise from supporters and players, with Jamie Roberts tweeting his approval, as 8,000 supporters filled CAP, a sell-out due to licensing conditions at the time.
At that point the season was in the balance as, although Cardiff Blues had made it through to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals as one of the best runners-up in the pool stages, six wins from 12 league games had left us struggling to keep pace in the race for the play-offs.
It was a tense game with Connacht arguably the team that deserved to win for the attacking intent shown, and they actually won the try count 2-1 through Tiernan O’Halloran and Dave Moore.
Unfortunately for the Irish side a blown try scoring opportunity at a key moment of the second half came back to haunt them, along with a missed conversion and penalty that saw them leave five points on the field.
On the flip side Ben Blair was as accurate as ever off the tee, kicking five penalties and a conversion for 17 points on the day, which along with a crucial Sam Hobbs try was enough to secure a 22-15 victory.
While the performance was laboured, being back at the Arms Park was a success though, with this game being backed up by another win at the famous old ground the following week over Ulster as pressure to make a permanent move back to town grew and grew.
Although the final three home games of the season would be played back to the Cardiff City Stadium, the end of the campaign saw the announcement supporters had been waiting for, with Cardiff Arms Park confirmed as Cardiff Blues’ home ground from the start of the 2012/13 season.
As the decade ends unfortunately the long-term future of the club at the Arms Park is still not sorted, but with Cardiff Athletic Club pressing on with plans to refurbish the ground, hopefully sense will be seen by all parties and an agreement come to.