Celtic Warriors have wasted not time in looking to re-strengthen their squad by agreeing in principle a deal with All Black wing Caleb Ralph.
The Canterbury Crusader has confirmed that he will join the Warriors on a two-year deal this August providing that he is not selected by Graham Henry and Steve Hansen to tour with the All Blacks this autumn.
Ralph, 26, is seen as a natural successor to Dafydd James, who had his transfer request accepted by coach Lynn Howells earlier in the year, though his arrival will also go some way to compensating for the loss of Gareth Thomas if he does move to Toulouse.
The Warriors had originally ruled out a move for Ralph because of his excessive wage demands, having also made tentative enquires with Australia star Joe Roff, but yesterday reached an agreement with the Super 12 flyer over his salary.
"After some negotiations, Caleb has confirmed that he will join us later in the year, though that obviously depends on whether or not he is selected for the All Blacks tour," said a Warriors spokesman.
"We made no secret that we were looking to strengthen in the wing/full-back area but this will be a huge signing for us, if he comes, as he is an international class player."
Ralph, who scored eight international tries, won the last four of his 14 All Black caps at the World Cup having made his Test debut back in 1998 when aged just 20.
A former New Zealand schools, Colts and Sevens international, he has never played a senior Test against Wales though was part of the New Zealand A team that beat a Wales XV 30-9 at the Millennium Stadium in 2000.
Meanwhile there was more good news for the Warriors with tight-head prop Chris Horsman, who qualifies for Wales on residency grounds next May, singing a two-year extension to his current contract that will him with the Warriors until 2007.
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.