James Thomas of Bedwas RFC with Jessica Smout, Customer Consultant at the Principality Branch in Queen Street, Cardiff
Bedwas backrow James Thomas has won the Principality Premiership Player of the Month award for January.
With the Bridge Field club winning both of their games in January, as part of a good run of form in 2014, Thomas has been rewarded for his contribution to the side.
As well as being a key man for Cardiff University while completing his studies, former Wales Under 20 captain Thomas has been a stalwart figure for Bedwas in recent times.
"It's a great honour to be named Player of the Month and I think it reflects how well we have been playing as a team," said Thomas.
"We've had a few good results recently, particularly at home, and that's been a great boost to everyone at the club.
"We didn't have the greatest start to the season like we did last year which was a bit frustrating but I think we are finishing a lot stronger. The squad has a lot more strength in depth to it now and I think that bodes well for the future."
After featuring for Newport, Pontypool and Ebbw Vale previously, Thomas has been training with the Wales Sevens squad recently and looks set to feature for Cardiff University in their Varsity clash with Swansea on April 9.
On his contribution at Principality Premiership level this season, Bedwas head coach Steve Law said: "James works incredibly hard in training, he leads from the front and his attitude at all times is second to none.
"He was Wales Under 20 captain not so long ago before suffering a bad injury but we are really starting to see James come back to his best now and reach his full potential.
"The performances he's been putting in are up there with some of the best I've seen at Premiership level for a long, long time. He has a chance of playing regional rugby if he keeps up the standards he's been setting and maybe improves even further. Week in, week out he's one of the best players on the park, he's just a very good rugby player.
"He has re-signed for next season and hopefully he'll continue to go from strength to strength. Everyone at Bedwas wishes James all the best for the future."
Maria Vidler, Principality Building Society's Queen Street branch manager, said: "James had a fantastic game against Cross Keys in January putting him to the top of the list as January's Principality Premiership Player of the Month. This stand-out performance and others during 2013 and 2014 have really helped Bedwas and we hope he continues this form for the rest of the season."
James Thomas factfile: Born: 17.8.90, Newport Position: Back row Club: Bedwas Former clubs: Newport, Pontypool, Ebbw Vale Education: Blackwood School, Llandovery College Most admired player: Jerome Kaino Biggest influence: Players and coaches at Llandovery College
This week on the Principality Premiership Podcast, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie talks to Carmarthen Quins head coach Louie Tonkin who is aiming to close the gap on leading duo, Pontypridd and Ebbw Vale, with victory against Bridgend tomorrow.
Christmas has come early at Glynneath rugby club, one of a number around Wales who have received an array of merchandise and equipment this December courtesy of the Welsh Rugby Union's £750,000 participation points scheme.
The WRU have been delivering on the scheme - which gives individual clubs access to up to £5,000 worth of supplies and equipment each for the 2014/2015 season - over the last two weeks and today (Friday) were received by a special guest in Glynneath, club president and pitch marker Max Boyce.
The Welsh Rugby Union has signed a new four year deal with specialist equipment supplier Rhino Rugby, which is set to benefit both the grass roots game in Wales and the national squad in equal measure.
We watch the new grass growing and being stitched together in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We speak to Millennium Stadium groundsman Lee Evans, Wales great Ieuan Evans gives an overview on the new strategy announced by head of rugby Josh Lewsey, while we also hear from Bedwas, Aberavon and Carmarthen Quins in the Principality Premiership.
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley was welcomed with open arms by the staff and players at Crymych recently when he hosted a training session in memory of former club captain and coach, Glyndwr Richards.
We hear about the WRU's annual report and some exciting new plans for schools and clubs round Wales in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. WRU finance director Steve Phillips explains the money side, while head of rugby Josh Lewsey explains his new strategy for schools and clubs. We also get reaction from all round Wales.