In the first of a series of articles celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Millennium Stadium, former WRU president Glanmor Griffiths recalls the massive obstacles that had to be overcome to create one of the greatest iconic sporting venues in the world.
It is incredible to think the Millennium Stadium is already 10 years old. It makes you wonder how we ever did without it!
As wonderful as the old Cardiff Arms Park was it simply wasn't up to scratch for the professional age of rugby. There were many who tried their best to force me to simply upgrade the old stadium, but I knew right from the start we needed a new, state-of-the-art facility.
It wasn't easy getting the rugby clubs of Wales to share in such a big vision for the future, and the Welsh public took some convincing at the start, but once people grasped the principle it was full steam ahead.
The great thing about looking back 10 years to that first game is that I now realise how unfinished the project was. We had to move all the cranes out to bring in a pitch on which to play the game against the Springboks and we only had 26,000 people in the ground.
The day after we'd all enjoyed one of the most famous victories in Welsh rugby history, we had to take the pitch out again, reinstall the cranes and get cracking on finishing off the stadium in time for the big kick-off of the 1999 Rugby World Cup on 1 October.
There were many knockers, those who said we would never have it ready on time. In the end, we delivered it on time, within budget and hosted the greatest World Cup to that date, providing each of our co-hosts, England, Scotland, Ireland and France, with a £5m profit.
In many ways the attitude to the Millennium Stadium project at the start was typically Welsh - we didn't think we were good enough or big enough to pull it off. What the building of the stadium proved is that, as the Welsh nation moved into a new millennium with a new system of government, we were able to showcase our talents and match the best in the world.
No wonder that the media very quickly described the stadium as the modern day icon of Wales. And for those people who thought it might become a white elephant, just listen to the news from the WRU this week.
Wasn't it great to hear Steve Phillips, the Union's Group Finance Director, announce that revenue generation from the stadium over the past decade has now surpassed £1 billion. If I wanted to be smug I might say 'I told you so'.
For as well as providing a huge morale boost to the Welsh nation, the Millennium Stadium has become a vital income generator for Wales' national sport. If we hadn't built the stadium I doubt we would have won the Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008 or won the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai this year.
I am proud to have played a part in the development of the whole concept of the Millennium Stadium and to have delivered it on time and within budget. But the real heroes were the Welsh rugby clubs initially and then the magnificent workforce from Laings. We should never forget them, nor the role played by Cardiff City Council.
Everyone said I was mad when I first started talking about bringing the FA Cup final to Cardiff, along with all the other major FA and Football League matches. The closure of Wembley Stadium was a factor, but to begin with they wanted us to pay for the privilege of hosting their events.
The Millennium Stadium was built within two years whereas it took six years for Wembley to complete its rebuild - at a cost of almost £1 billion compared with a cost for the Millennium Stadium of £130m- and in that time the stadium, Cardiff and Wales were able to show themselves off to the sporting world. As someone said, the Millennium Stadium provided £100m worth of PR for the nation in its first year alone.
I can still close my eyes and see a dozen cranes dominating the Cardiff skyline in the early days of construction. I can still hear the doubting Thomases saying it would never be built on time.
Now, you never hear anything but praise for a stadium that is so often singled out as one of the greatest sporting arenas in the world. That was always the motivation - to create a venue that would carry on the great traditions of Cardiff Arms Park.
I think we achieved that and more. Happy Birthday!
Wales Head Coach Rob Howley talks to WRU TV's Sebastian Barrett about the 36-man squad he has just named for the forthcoming Under Armour series, which includes two uncapped players, Ospreys duo Sam Davies and Rory Thornton.
Head coach Rowland Phillips is deligthed he can now call BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park home for his Wales Women's side, who launch their international season next month with games against Scotland and UK Armed Forces in the heart of the capital city.
Wales Sevens star Sam Cross has put his home town club of Brynmawr on the map after winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics with Team GB. His club have now honoured him by naming their players bar after him, as WRU TV discovered at the official launch, recently.
One of the newest members of the Principality Premiership, Bargoed admit it's proving to be a steep learning curve at the highest level, but are determined to become a force to be reckoned with. WRU TV visited the club last weekend when they took on Llanelli.
Table-topping Aberavon travel to north Wales to tackle RGC 1404 as both teams defend unbeaten starts to the season in the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie visited the Wizards to see how their preparations were going for the game of the weekend.
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.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.
Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams looks back on the Rio Sevens success where he helped GB win silver. He believes the successful campaign is a huge boost to his Welsh squad as they prepare for another World Series, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers