***One of the great traditions in the rugby world has come to an end with safety chiefs decreeing that children will no longer be allowed on the Stradey Park pitch at half time.
And with bitter irony, the decision comes into force at Saturday's Celtic League game against Edinburgh - a game the Scarlets have designated as a 'Kids Special'. With free admission offered to children of school age, thousands of young supporters are expected at Stradey on Saturday and were no doubt looking forward to continuing the long-standing tradition.
The club has expressed its deep disappointment at this week's decision by the safety committee, comprising representatives of Carmarthenshire County Council, Dyfed Powys Police, Mid and West Wales Fire Brigade and the St John's Ambulance Brigade.
However it has no alternative other than to abide by the decision and asks supporters to abide the rule and stay off the field at half time otherwise the club could loose its safety certificate and its ability to host matches at Stradey.
Scarlets Chief Executive, Stuart Gallacher, said: "For as long as anyone can remember, week in week out, come rain or shine, the half time entertainment at Stradey Park has included watching the kids trying to emulate their heroes. I'm sure many of us will fondly remember those happy hours we spent out there during our younger days."
Chairman of the Supporters Club, Jason Richards, added that he was devastated by the decision. "it was one of the things that made Stradey special. I just don't understand it, I've been coming here 30-odd years and there's never been any problems. We've all been part of the tradition and looked forward to our kids continuing it."
The Supporters Club will be meeting on Thursday to discuss how they are going to express their disappointment at the decision.
However disappointing the news is, the Scarlets will be working hard to ensure that youngsters still enjoy Saturday's game. It is a rare afternoon game for the Scarlets, kicking off at 5:30pm and special entertainment has been arranged for before and after the game. The Scarlet Zone with its face painting and bouncy castles will be operating as usual and in addition there will be a mini funfair for the little ones and live bands for bigger ones.
The offer is open to everyone under 16 or in full-time education and able to produce a Students Union card or other ID. The Kids Special tickets will provide free admission to the Pwll or Scoreboard ends of the ground.
Tickets are available via the Scarlets Ticketline 0871 871 8088 or in person at the ticket office.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
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