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.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.
Dodgy tattoos, carthorses, Avatar and soft chins are revealed by Wales Sevens players Tom Williams and Sam Cross as they profile the Wales Sevens squad taking part in Hong Kong this weekend in the latest round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.