Video: Journalists live the Millennium Stadium dream
23 October 2008 12:46
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.
Wales Head Coach Rob Howley talks to WRU TV's Sebastian Barrett about the 36-man squad he has just named for the forthcoming Under Armour series, which includes two uncapped players, Ospreys duo Sam Davies and Rory Thornton.
Head coach Rowland Phillips is deligthed he can now call BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park home for his Wales Women's side, who launch their international season next month with games against Scotland and UK Armed Forces in the heart of the capital city.
Wales Sevens star Sam Cross has put his home town club of Brynmawr on the map after winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics with Team GB. His club have now honoured him by naming their players bar after him, as WRU TV discovered at the official launch, recently.
One of the newest members of the Principality Premiership, Bargoed admit it's proving to be a steep learning curve at the highest level, but are determined to become a force to be reckoned with. WRU TV visited the club last weekend when they took on Llanelli.
Table-topping Aberavon travel to north Wales to tackle RGC 1404 as both teams defend unbeaten starts to the season in the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie visited the Wizards to see how their preparations were going for the game of the weekend.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.
Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.