Ryan Jones was left pinching himself last night as he prepared to take part in his first training session with the Lions.
Jones arrived in Christchurch on Sunday after being called up as cover for the injured Scottish No.8 Simon Taylor, who has since been ruled out of the rest of the tour. For the Ospreys flanker / No.8, his late inclusion in the Lions party rounds off the most incredible year of his life.
Having kicked off last summer out of work after the Warriors folded, Jones was then snapped up by the Ospreys. Ten months later he finds himself in a Lions squad having won the Celtic League with his region and the RBS Six Nations, Triple Crown and Grand Slam with Wales.
"I find it difficult to stop smiling," said Jones. "It has been an amazing year with the Ospreys and Wales and this just rounds it off. I am still wondering when it will all sink in, but for the time being I am just trying to concentrate on helping the Lions out here."
Jones was due to play for Wales against Canada in Toronto on Saturday night, but was withdrawn from that game and popped on an eighteen hour flight to Auckland when the call came.
"It came right out of the blue, but it was a great feeling when Alan Phillips told me the news," added Jones. "I managed to watch a re-run of the Wales game on television here yesterday morning and I was delighted for the boys that they finished off the tour in such style. Let's hope the Lions can do the same by winning the series out here."
Jones has no idea when he will get his chance, but it seems likely that he will play some part in next week's game against Southland in Invercargill.
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'.