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The sports shop for people who play.

The venue: Tony Pryce Sports, 11 Queens Arcade, Cardiff. Tel 029 2022 4221. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9am until 5.30pm and Sunday 10.30am to 4.30pm.

THE MISSION: To get a Springboks rugby shirt ready for tonight's RWC final.

TONIGHT Shop Spy's off to the pub to cheer on the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup final and I want to wear my devotion.

Since last weekend, the South African rugby shirts have been like gold dust, so will Cardiff city centre's newest sport shop be able to cater for my rugby loyalty?

First impressions: A mannequin models an England RWC shirt in the window.

And walking in through the doors there is rack after rack of rugby shirts. There's Welsh ones (if only we'd made it through to the final), there's the Welsh regional teams like Cardiff Blues, Scarlets and Gwent Dragons. Even the black and gold of London Wasps and the All Blacks (who were there in person for an autograph signing session just a few weeks ago). But no green and gold Springbok shirts.

However Tony Pryce Sports isn't just about shirts. It's a proper sports shop, where the emphasis is on equipment and performance rather than just posing and looking good in shorts. It's a family-run business, which started out in Minehead, Somerset, specialising in sporting equipment. The Cardiff store is their first venture in Wales, although the company also holds the franchise for the nearby Animal surf shop.

Laid out over two floors in the Queens Arcade, just opposite Argos, the shop is neat.

Upstairs there's a section for athletes' performance clothing, Heatgear, with prices ranging from pounds 34.99 for a long-sleeved top.

Downstairs there's a range of rackets, shelves of cricket gear and row upon row of brightly-coloured hockey sticks.

Bargain basement or top drawer: It depends what you're looking for. Basic tennis rackets started from pounds 19.99 or you could pick up a badminton racket for pounds 12.99. Top of the range hockey sticks and cricket bats were several hundred pounds while boot studs or gumshields are just a couple of pounds.

Anything unusual: There is a good selection of football shirts of teams from the top divisions, including the usual Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, and rugby shirts, competitively-priced at between pounds 40 and pounds 50. But the shop also stocks kit from lesser-known teams like Birmingham City, Plymouth Argyle and Reading. But they are still waiting for their order of Cardiff City shirts, which is due in November.

Happy to help: A smiling assistant called Dave informed me they'd sold the last Springbok shirt that very morning and were unable to get any more ordered before tonight's final. When Shop Spy commented on the number of England shirts that were still on the racks during my visit on Wednesday, he replied "that could change depending on today's result."

Easy to park: There is no parking at the store as it is in the city centre, but there is ample parking in car parks around the city and is a short walk from Queen Street Station.

The verdict: I left empty-handed, but if I ever decide to actually get on a rugby pitch and play instead of sitting in the pub as a spectator, Tony Pryce sports will be my first port of call.

Sports fans can find all sorts of equipment on sale at the store:

Samurai sevens rugby jersey Something a bit different, these stylish red rugby shirts look good worn casually or on the training ground.Price, pounds 44.99.

Gilbert World Cup supporters rugby ball This special edition ball is a collectable for any Rugby World Cup fan. And you can pick up other match and training rugby balls.Price, pounds 9.99.

Adidas 45 maxi hockey stick This top-of-the-range hockey stick is one of the best on the market. And it's the most expensive in the vast range at Tony Pryce. Price, pounds 199.

Nike Air Equalon trainers These latest edition Nike Air trainers, are made for comfort and style, whether they are used for sport or not. Price, pounds 94.99.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 20, 2007
Words:691
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