It was billed as a test event, even if most of the Test players in both teams were away preparing for the start of the Six Nations, the first match played at Saracens' new home, complete with its artificial surface, and there was one conspicuous advantage.
The day before the match, the surface had been covered in snow but the jersey of every player was as unstained after the final whistle as it had been at the start. "It should save them a bit on cleaning bills," said Phil Davies, the Cardiff Blues' director, who is used to seeing players come off the Arms Park with the colour of their kit masked by the mud that forms the surface on one side of the ground.
Players were able to stay on their feet in contact, the ball stayed dry and conducive to handling throughout and there were fewer re-set scrums than there are in the average game. But there are some things that are immune to changes in the playing surface, not least the tune a referee plays on his whistle and the desire of players not to give their opponents an advantage.
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