The future of Welsh rugby looks bright according to Wales Under 18 team manager Will Thomas after he saw his side claim the third place play-off against France in the Fira European Championship held in Poland last week.
In a tight affair, the young Welsh side were staring down the barrel of defeat at halftime with France leading 16-7. The French side, who had already beaten their opponents in March, looked odds on to claim the honours when they shot out to a 30-17 lead but two late converted tries by fly half Jarrod Evans saw Wales snatch a 31-30 to avenge their earlier defeat in Chartres.
Shaun Pearce's try in the first half kept Wales in the game while Thomas Phillips effort brought his side back into the game midway through the second spell after France had shot out to a 23-10 advantage.
Wales showed plenty of grit and determination to get back into the game, which Thomas conceded, if it had been played a month or so ago, victory would probably have eluded them.
"The results over the tournament - and not just the third place play-off show how far this team has come in a relative short space of time," he said.
"It was only a few weeks ago we were beaten comfortably by England at the Gnoll but we so nearly overturned that result and lost only to a last minute penalty while we recorded a narrow win over Scotland in our first game of the tournament.
"To finish off with a win against a very strong France side was very pleasing. The entire squad showed plenty of team spirit to drag themselves back into the game. It shows how far they have come as players but also the coaching staff deserve a pat on the back.
"Shaun [Connor] stepped up to the plate alongside his coaching staff and support staff and created a strong and positive environment with their huge amount of hard work and detail in their delivery which was very much reflected in the results we achieved."
FIRA U18 Championship results:
Fri 11th Apr 14 Wales U18s 23 - 21 Scotland U18s
Tue 15th Apr 14 Wales U18s 9 - 11 England U18s
Sat 19th Apr 14 Wales U18s 31 - 30 France U18s
All roads lead to Cardiff on Sunday for the SSE SWALEC Finals Day at the Millennium Stadium. Cambrian Welfare tackle Ystradgynlais in the Bowl final, Ystrad Rhondda play Newcastle Emlyn in the Plate final while defending champions Pontypridd face Bridgend in the Cup final.
WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.