Ian Gough reckons the Ospreys' pre-season preparations will pay off
Ian Gough reckons the Ospreys' week in France will pay dividends in the new season.
The reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions have just returned from a week-long training camp in central France, which culminated in a clash with Clermont Auvergne.
The Ospreys slipped to a 49-25 loss but Gough insists the experience, along with the training done, will prove vital when the region kick-off their season against Treviso.
"Training in some really hot weather will benefit us for the first weekend of the Pro12 in Treviso," said Gough.
"Last year we went out there and played in that sort of temperature and it almost caught us out, but we're a bit wiser for the experience now and being in France working hard last week will help us prepare for that in a few weeks' time.
"We're at different stages of our pre-season with the test players coming back later after their trip to Australia so there was an onus on a lot of the young lads to front up against Clermont.
"They were pretty formidable, so it was a big test for the younger members. It's always good to play against the best sides and they definitely were a really good side.
"Did the result matter? Not at all. It's all about conditioning, where you are fitness wise, and about trying things out on the pitch.
"What's most important is how you transfer what you are doing in training into a match environment."
The Liberty Stadium outfit continue their preparations for the new season on Saturday against Bath, where they will reunite with former favourite Paul James.
"Bath are a quality side and are going to offer us different challenges," added Gough.
"It's our first home game which means a lot to the guys, to play in front of our own crowd.
"This type of game is exactly what we need to prepare us for the rigours of the Rabo, and I'd expect that a few more of the Wales guys will come into the equation. It's the next step in our preparation.
"There's competition in the squad, everyone is vying for places to be a part of the team that starts our defence in a couple of weeks and that's always a good thing.
"Paul will have to be shepherded into the away changing room - I don't suppose he's ever seen the inside of it!"
Porthcawl recently received a WRU facilities grant and funding from Natwest RugbyForce in order to give their changing rooms a facelift. This came after receiving £10,000 in a WRU facilities grant last year to tarmac their car park. The improvements have already helped to make the club more accessible, not only for their own members and players but for the whole community.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a new, accredited Safeguarding and Protecting Children course - funded by the WRU and delivered in partnership with Sport Wales and the NSPCC - fo rugby club volunteers around Wales.
The SWALEC semi-final draws threw up some mouth-watering clashes in the Cup, Plate and Bowl as the 12 teams aim for the Millennium Stadium Finals Day. All the semi-finals are to be played on the weekend of April 12.
Welsh whistler Rhys Thomas continues to scale the heights of the game as he prepares to be an official in this weekend's Hong Kong Sevens tournament, undoubtedly the showpiece event on the World Series calendar.
Wales International Ian Evans and Wales and Lions legend Scott Quinnell swapped rugby balls for paint pots at Tonna during the RBS 6 Nations. They surprised club players with a special clubhouse makeover to launch NatWest RugbyForce 2014 - a programme developed in partnership with the WRU to make rugby clubs stronger businesses by improving and renovating their facilities with the support of volunteers and the local community.
Fresh from claiming the Bowl honours in Tokyo last Sunday, the Wales Sevens squad have settled into their routine as they prepare for this weekend's Hong Kong tournament where Iolo Evans is aiming high, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
The Welsh Rugby Union has recently teamed up with Prostate Cymru to help the charity launch its latest campaign to raise awareness of the disease. Members of the Wales squad helped produce a short video and promotional material for the campaign titled 'The Best Defence - is to know the FACTS'.