Ruddock's Grand Slammers will clash with Graham Henry's Tri-Nations winners New Zealand at a sold-out Millennium Stadium on 5th November 2005. Then the two men will have a private battle to succeed South Africa's Jake White as 'Coach of the Year' at the annual awards ceremony to be staged at Pavillon d'Armenonville in Paris's Allée de Longchamps on Sunday 27th November. In addition, the Lions-slaying All Blacks and the RBS Six Nations Champions will be vying for the IRB's 'Team of the Year' title. "It is great news that Mike Ruddock's Wales side has been shortlisted for the 'Team of the Year' title for the first time in the five year history of these IRB awards," said WRU Chief Executive David Moffett. "It is testimony to how much the team has developed under Mike and his coaching and management team in such a short space of time. A first Grand Slam in twenty-seven years was a special moment for Welsh rugby. "Mike has already been nominated for the Sports Council of Wales's 'Welsh Coach of the Year' title and now he will also be battling with Graham Henry, who won that when he was coaching Wales, for the IRB crown. "These nominations are nothing less than the Wales team and Mike Ruddock deserve for their outstanding achievements over the past year." The only previous Welsh winners at the IRB Awards, which were inaugurated in 2001 are Gavin Henson, who was the 'Young Player of the Year' in the first year, former Rugby World Cup Final referee Derek Bevan, who took the referees' 'Distinguished Service' award in 2003, and former WRU and IRB Chairman Vernon Pugh, who posthumously received the IRB Chairman's Award in the same year. The gala event rewards the highest achievements in the game from the end of the 2004 Lloyds TSB Autumn Series until 2005 Invesco Perpetual Series and also honours outstanding past contribution to Rugby. Where awards categories have nominees, they have been shortlisted by an independent panel of judges, made up of former internationals with 503 caps between them; Francois Pineaar, Michael Jones, Fabien Galthie, Keith Wood, Gavin Hastings, Jonathan Davies, Dan Lyle, Federico Mendez and the convenor, John Eales. Five players, all from the southern hemisphere, have been shortlisted to succeeed Schalk Burger as the IRB 'Player of the Year'. They are All Blacks Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Tana Umaga and Springboks Bryan Habana and Victor Matfield.
Porthcawl recently received a WRU facilities grant and funding from Natwest RugbyForce in order to give their changing rooms a facelift. This came after receiving £10,000 in a WRU facilities grant last year to tarmac their car park. The improvements have already helped to make the club more accessible, not only for their own members and players but for the whole community.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a new, accredited Safeguarding and Protecting Children course - funded by the WRU and delivered in partnership with Sport Wales and the NSPCC - fo rugby club volunteers around Wales.
The SWALEC semi-final draws threw up some mouth-watering clashes in the Cup, Plate and Bowl as the 12 teams aim for the Millennium Stadium Finals Day. All the semi-finals are to be played on the weekend of April 12.
Welsh whistler Rhys Thomas continues to scale the heights of the game as he prepares to be an official in this weekend's Hong Kong Sevens tournament, undoubtedly the showpiece event on the World Series calendar.
Wales International Ian Evans and Wales and Lions legend Scott Quinnell swapped rugby balls for paint pots at Tonna during the RBS 6 Nations. They surprised club players with a special clubhouse makeover to launch NatWest RugbyForce 2014 - a programme developed in partnership with the WRU to make rugby clubs stronger businesses by improving and renovating their facilities with the support of volunteers and the local community.
Fresh from claiming the Bowl honours in Tokyo last Sunday, the Wales Sevens squad have settled into their routine as they prepare for this weekend's Hong Kong tournament where Iolo Evans is aiming high, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
The Welsh Rugby Union has recently teamed up with Prostate Cymru to help the charity launch its latest campaign to raise awareness of the disease. Members of the Wales squad helped produce a short video and promotional material for the campaign titled 'The Best Defence - is to know the FACTS'.
Defending champions Coleg Sir Gar reached their second consecutive Millennium Stadium final as they defeated Coleg Gwent in the WRU Wednesday Under 18 play-off. Watch highlights of their narrow 10-8 win here.