Video: Journalists live the Millennium Stadium dream
23 October 2008 12:46pm
By Graeme Gillespie
Considering they spend their careers writing about what happens on the pitch, it was noticeable how some of rugby's top writers were gripped with trepidation when stepping out on to the hallowed turf of the Millennium Stadium for the first time.
To celebrate the launch of the new Under Armour-sponsored Wales kit, 25 rugby journalists were given the opportunity of being 'honourable Welsh players' for the day.
They gathered at Wales sponsors Brains' Crawshays Arms headquarters, for a players' breakfast of fruit salad, porridge, omelettes, eggs, fresh ham, brown bread and herbal tea with former Wales captain Scott Quinnell the master of ceremonies.
The 'players' were then ushered on to the official bus of the Wales team for the journey to the Millennium Stadium where SQ gave an enlightening talk of what goes through the minds of players en route to the rugby citadel.
A video, complete with police outriders, flashing blue lights and sirens, of the real players' journey into a wet Cardiff for last March's magnificent Grand Slam finale with France was played on the bus the whole journey.
Each 'player' was given their personalised kit before Wales coach Warren Gatland gave them a pre-match pep talk.
"You are carrying the expectations of a nation on your shoulders, not to mention those of your own family and friends, and the 74,500 or so fans filling the Millennium Stadium terraces," he roared.
Fitness coach Mark Bennett then put the players through a warm-up routine before Neil Jenkins, Rob Howley and Robin McBryde put them through their paces.
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'.