After playing to packed houses over the Christmas festivities the Magners League programme continues into the New Year with another round of local derbies
First up on New Year's Eve Cardiff Blues will welcome Ospreys to a sold out Arms Park. Blues will be hoping to keep up the trend of the last six meetings between these two teams in the Magners League which have all been won by the home side on the day. Ospreys only previous win at the Arms Park was 15-9 on 1 January 2005.
New Year's Day sees Scarlets welcome Newport Gwent Dragons to Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli. Dragons have won just four of their previous 13 encounters with Scarlets, and were victorious in Llanelli just once: in September 2007, so the hosts will be hoping to build on the success of their last home game which saw a 27-13 victory over Cardiff Blues.
The second leg of the Scottish derby takes place at Firhill Arena on Friday afternoon with Edinburgh taking a 33 point lead from the first game between the two on Boxing Day. That fixture smashed the record crowd for a Magners League game in Scotland (12,534), so Warriors will be looking for a good turnout at Firhill to break their attendance record as well.
In Ireland, Connacht will be looking to build on their historic win over Munster by completing a first ever season double over a fellow Irish Province when they travel to the Dublin to face Leinster, a difficult task given that the Leinstermen have been defeated just once at the RDS since October 2007.
A full house at Thomond Park Stadium is assured for the final game of the round when table topping Munster welcome Ulster on Saturday evening. The Ulstermen's last win in Munster was 20-17 in Cork on 3 December 2005, whilst their last triumph at Thomond Park was over 16 years ago, in the Interprovincial Championship on 28 November 1992.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.