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.
The last five years have been an emotional rollercoaster on and off the pitch for RGC1404. Promotion to the Principality Premiership was the culmination of five years of hard work and investment in North Wales. WRU TV caught up with prop Joe Simpson, who was one of the first intake of WRU North Wales Academy players in 2010.
Ebbw Vale captain Damien Hudd picked up the biggest accolade of the night at the 11th Principality Premiership Awards Evening held at Principality Stadium, after leading his side to the title for the first time.
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde is predicting a tough battle against England on Sunday despite the fact they may not be considered to be at full strength. Players will be out to impress Eddie Jones which makes England a dangerous proposition, he says.
Wales U20 captain Tom Phillips and performance psychologist Dr Rich Neil explain why spending three days at Monmouth RFC has further strengthened the togetherness of the squad ahead of the #WorldRugbyU20s