Stephen Jones with Invesco Perpetual Series Tickets
Scarlets outside half Stephen Jones is the new man to lead Wales into the Invesco Perpetual Series next month and through to the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Gareth Jenkins opted for the 28-year-old after considering a number of candidates. When he leads Wales in the four match Invesco Perpetual Series it won't be the first time Jones has worn the captain's arm band. He led both Wales U18 Schools and Wales U21 and skippered the full Welsh team against England in 2003.
"This is a great honour for myself, my club and my family and I am grateful to Gareth and the management team for giving me the opportunity to lead my country," said Jones. "The role of captain of the Wales rugby team is one of the greatest in Welsh sport. It is something I have had a brief taste of in the past and it is a position I now feel ready to fill on a longer term basis.
"It is an exciting new challenge for me and I am looking forward to working with the players and management to ensure we are able to prepare properly for the 2007 RBS Six Nations and Rugby World Cup campaigns. These are exciting times for Welsh rugby with a high level of competition for places.
"I have been fortunate to play under some great captains in my time with the Scarlets, Clermont, Wales and the British Lions and I know that I won't be on my own when I am out there. With such experienced leaders as the likes of Gareth Thomas, Duncan Jones and Martyn Williams in the squad I will have plenty of people to turn to if I need some help.
"Alfie (Gareth Thomas) has been a superb captain, his enthusiasm is infectious, he is well liked throughout the squad and it is good to know he will be there alongside me. We started something at the 2003 Rugby World Cup with our performances against New Zealand and England that led to us winning the Grand Slam in 2005.
"We have 14 international matches to play before we kick-off our 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign against Canada in Nantes, next month we will take our first steps down a long road and the aim is to get everything right in that time to ensure we can be as competitive as possible against the best teams in the world.
"We kick-off with the game against Australia in the opening game in the Invesco Perpetual Series next week and we couldn't have asked for a tougher, or better, start to what promises to be an incredible 12 months.
"The captaincy won't change me - I'll approach the job with a smile on my face as always and hopefully ensure we have a happy camp with a strong work ethic. If I can achieve that, as captains before me have done, then I will be happy with my lot. The experience I have of professional rugby at international level tells me that you have to be realistic, you learn not to get carried away when you win or too down when you lose, just concentrate on the job in hand, work hard and you can achieve anything."
STEPHEN MICHAEL JONES Club: Llanelli Scarlets
Position: Fly half
Weight: 14st 0lbs
International record: 56 caps
(W 26, D 1, L 29; 506 pts - 6T, 91C, 95PG, 3DG)
1999 C(rep) - World Cup - J(rep)
2003 S,I,F,A,NZ,E - World Cup - T,It(rep),NZ,E
Lions - 3 caps 2005 NZ (1,2 rep,3; 14 pts - 1C,4PG)
Stephen Michael Jones, who returned to Llanelli Scarlets in the summer after two seasons in France with ASM Clermont Auvergne, first captained Wales against England in 2003 as his country's 120th captain. He made his debut as a 50th minute replacement in the match against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, on 27 June, 1998 after leading the Wales U21 to Grand Slam glory. He also captained Wales at U18 level.
Jones featured in all three tests for the 2005 Lions against the All Blacks, scoring 14 points in the third Test. He was the 16th player to win 50 Welsh caps and his 506 Test points make him the second highest scorer in Welsh international rugby behind Neil Jenkins (1,049). He overtook Paul Thorburn (304) in the 2004 Championship match against France.
He was the third player to top 500 points in the Heineken Cup and has currently scored 599 points (562 for the Scarlets and 37 for Clermont) in 52 tournament appearances. He has also played at full back and in the centre for his country.
Principality Stadium will host the UEFA Champions League Final in six weeks' time. WRU chairman Gareth Davies, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford and Ambassador Ian Rush joined young sports fans at the trophy arrival at the venue to celebrate the magnitude of the event on Saturday 3rd June (kick-off 19.45).
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is looking forward to bringing together players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales for the biggest challenge of their careers - a series against world champions, New Zealand.
For the fifth year running, Wales referee Nigel Owens will be in charge of proceedings at Judgement Day V at Principality Stadium. It promises to be 'extra special' for the Wales' favourite ref, as he will be making his 150th appearance in the league.
There will be no shortage of inside knowledge from Bowl Finalists Caerphilly and Amman United when they face each other on Sunday at National Finals Day. Caerphilly hooker Rhys Cleverly knows the Principality Stadium pitch better than most as a matchday groundsman, while Amman United can look to Wales' record try scorer Shane Williams for some helpful advice.
Two hundred and 40 teams competed in the inaugural Urdd WRU 7s held at Pencoed last week with Welsh internationals Steff Andrews and Jasmine Joyce impressed with the talent on display, as was Urdd chief executive, Sioned Hughes.
The countdown is on for Judgement Day V as tickets for the big day at Principality Stadium soar through the 50,000 mark. Players and coaches alike are bursting at the seams to play in the double header with Dragons coach Kingsley Jones claiming there is a 'real buzz' about the event.
WRU TV went behind the scenes when the four regions got together to test their skill set for the BBC's Scrum V Live rugby show, at the WRU National Centre of Excellene in the build up to Judgement Day V. Blues' Matthew Morgan was one of the stars of the show while the Dragons' Cory Hill proved a surprise package...the full set of results will be revealed on tv screens on matchday
Wales assistant coach Richie Pugh is confident his side can cause a few headaches in the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend. In a tough group, Wales kick off their campaign against New Zealand on Friday before playing Japan and Fiji, who are chasing their third consecutive Hong Kong title, on Saturday.
Bedwas had to overcome a stubborn Carmarthen Quins side before winning the Foster's Challenge Cup final in Bridgend with a 23-18 victory. Bedwas captain Nicky Griffiths pays tribute to his side who have claimed the club's first piece of silverware in the modern era.
Team coach Brett Davey is aiming to keep his unbeaten run in cup finals at Principality Stadium intact when his side take on Amman United in the WRU Bowl final, after he guided Caerphilly to a 20-14 win against Cilfynydd in the semi-finals.
Penallta are hoping to go one step further than last season when falling to Bedlinog in the WRU Plate Final. After a titanic struggle against Nant Conwy, they have given themselves a great chance, after a hard fought 18-13 semi-final victory.