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!"
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is looking forward to bringing together players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales for the biggest challenge of their careers - a series against world champions, New Zealand.
For the fifth year running, Wales referee Nigel Owens will be in charge of proceedings at Judgement Day V at Principality Stadium. It promises to be 'extra special' for the Wales' favourite ref, as he will be making his 150th appearance in the league.
There will be no shortage of inside knowledge from Bowl Finalists Caerphilly and Amman United when they face each other on Sunday at National Finals Day. Caerphilly hooker Rhys Cleverly knows the Principality Stadium pitch better than most as a matchday groundsman, while Amman United can look to Wales' record try scorer Shane Williams for some helpful advice.
Two hundred and 40 teams competed in the inaugural Urdd WRU 7s held at Pencoed last week with Welsh internationals Steff Andrews and Jasmine Joyce impressed with the talent on display, as was Urdd chief executive, Sioned Hughes.
The countdown is on for Judgement Day V as tickets for the big day at Principality Stadium soar through the 50,000 mark. Players and coaches alike are bursting at the seams to play in the double header with Dragons coach Kingsley Jones claiming there is a 'real buzz' about the event.
WRU TV went behind the scenes when the four regions got together to test their skill set for the BBC's Scrum V Live rugby show, at the WRU National Centre of Excellene in the build up to Judgement Day V. Blues' Matthew Morgan was one of the stars of the show while the Dragons' Cory Hill proved a surprise package...the full set of results will be revealed on tv screens on matchday
Wales assistant coach Richie Pugh is confident his side can cause a few headaches in the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend. In a tough group, Wales kick off their campaign against New Zealand on Friday before playing Japan and Fiji, who are chasing their third consecutive Hong Kong title, on Saturday.
Bedwas had to overcome a stubborn Carmarthen Quins side before winning the Foster's Challenge Cup final in Bridgend with a 23-18 victory. Bedwas captain Nicky Griffiths pays tribute to his side who have claimed the club's first piece of silverware in the modern era.
Team coach Brett Davey is aiming to keep his unbeaten run in cup finals at Principality Stadium intact when his side take on Amman United in the WRU Bowl final, after he guided Caerphilly to a 20-14 win against Cilfynydd in the semi-finals.
Penallta are hoping to go one step further than last season when falling to Bedlinog in the WRU Plate Final. After a titanic struggle against Nant Conwy, they have given themselves a great chance, after a hard fought 18-13 semi-final victory.
The unique jeopardy of Judgement Day V has been described by stars from Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons who will face each other in the annual double-header at Principality Stadium on 15th April.