Welsh-based Ben Morgan and Gethin Jenkins have made the shortlist for the ERC European Player of the Year 2012 award.
Blues prop Jenkins and Scarlets No 8 Morgan have an opportunity to further enhance their chances of taking the crown from last year's winner Sean O'Brien when playing in their respective Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup games this weekend.
While the initial longlist recognises the performances from the Pool stages only, the Judging Panel will have the option to consider players who make outstanding contributions in the quarter-final and semi-final matches for their shortlist and final selection.
A shortlist of five players will be announced following the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals (27/28/29 April) and the ERC European Player of the Year winner for 2012 will be selected after the London Finals Weekend of 18/19 May.
Longlist of contenders for the ERC European Player of Year 2012 based on Pool stage performances:
Mouritz Botha Lock Saracens
Mike Brown Full Back Harlequins
Antoine Claassen Back Row Brive
Thierry Dusautoir Back Row Toulouse
Owen Farrell Centre Saracens
Stephen Ferris Back Row Ulster Rugby
Wesley Fofana Centre ASM Clermont Auvergne Gethin Jenkins Prop Cardiff Blues
Johnny Sexton Out half Leinster Rugby
Greig Laidlaw Scrum half/Out half Edinburgh Rugby
Timoci Matanavou Wing Toulouse
Ignacio Mieres Out half Exeter Chiefs Ben Morgan No 8 Scarlets
Ronan O'Gara Out half Munster Rugby
Netani Talei No 8 Edinburgh Rugby
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'.