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.
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.