Following the ERC board meeting last week when five Welsh teams were accepted to take part in ERC tournaments in the 2003/04 season, the Board met again in Dublin last night (8th April) to resolve the situation regarding Welsh participation in the Heineken Cup and PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP.
There was unanimous support from the Board of ERC for Welsh rugby as it goes through a transition period. The Board agreed that all five teams established under the restructuring of Welsh Professional rugby would play in the 2003/2004 Heineken Cup tournament. However, from the season 2004/2005, Wales will be represented by four teams in the Heineken Cup and one in the PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP. This is to comply with the wishes of the Board that all Shareholder countries are represented in the PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP.
ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath stated, 'As the Board has resolved participation for the 2003/04 Heineken Cup, we can now begin the process of incorporating the impact of these decisions to the Long Form Agreement between the parties. In addition, the Board can now commence work on the format of the PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP taking into account that there will be no Welsh participation in next year's tournaments.'
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.