Stuart Williams is never far from Pontypridd's thoughts says Paul John
On the field, it has been a season like many others. A concerted push for the Principality Premiership title, a so far successful run in the SWALEC Cup and a colourful journey into the latter stages of the British and Irish Cup. A story of tries, tears, penalties, points, heroes and heartbreak.
However, the club's seemingly perennial drive towards the top of Welsh club rugby, has been set against the backdrop of personal pain and immense sadness. Whether or not Pontypridd win the eagerly anticipated re-run of the 2012 final and successfully defend the SWALEC Cup title, the 2013-14 season will always be remembered for the tragic passing of one of the club's great stalwarts, Stuart Williams.
A regular at the Millennium Stadium, during his 10 years in the Pontypridd front row, 33-year-old Stuart passed away whilst at work, at Craig yr Hesg Quarry, in October last year. The affable prop left a wife, Vicky and two young children, Harvey and Megan, who will be mascots on Sunday afternoon. He also left an extended family who charted with great affection, every step of his career.
The news sent shock waves around the rugby world and has, of course, left a terrible void at Sardis Road. Little wonder, therefore, that when the side runs out on the hallowed turf this weekend, they will have the poignant words of head coach Paul John to drive them on to what would be a fitting end to a season overshadowed by grief.
'Good luck, give it your best shot and never forget Stuart', are likely to be the final words spoken by the man who not only taught Stuart, but played with him and coached him.
"It was a terrible blow to the club , to the family and to everyone who knew him," said John.
"Pontypridd is a club with great tradition and even greater values. We have produced many, many great players and Stuart was one of those.
"He has never been far from our thoughts and that goes for his family too. I will certainly tell the boys on Sunday how important he was to the club, on and off the field. Having said that, to a man, they know that. Anyone who played with Stuart knows that."
A burly prop of genuine quality, Stuart, who played 283 times for Pontypridd, was there at the coal face when the club were crowned Swalec champions this time last year.
The name of Stuart Williams might be missing from the team-sheet this weekend, but he will be forever etched in the hearts and minds of everyone involved.
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.
A joint venture between the WRU and Admiral saw hundreds of children enjoy the Admiral Festival of Rugby held at the National Centre of Excellence at the weekend where Welsh internationals Sam Warburton, Scott Williams and Rob Evans were in attendance.
Wll Jones leads Wales U18s into battle this afternoon against Italy where the Welsh side will be seeking to bounce back from their narrow defeat to SA Schools in their opening clash of the U19 International Series
All four regions attended a successful training camp staged last weekend at the WRU National Centre of Excellence. It was a chance for new Wales Women's head coach Rowland Phillips to deliver his key messages to players and coaches as he prepares for the new season.
Wales U18 Team Manager Gethin Watts believes the next couple of weeks will be 'extremely beneficial' to the future of Welsh rugby as his side prepare to take part in the Under 19 International Series being staged in South Africa.
The WRU is searching for 12 new rugby development apprentices following a successful first year of its WRU Coach Core programme. Craig Duncan and Jess Hancock have flourished in the first year of the programme which has given them a real direction in their lives.
The WRU signed TV comedian Rhod Gilbert up to a 'Coaching Children Level 1' course before letting him loose on an U8s side at Whitland Junior Borderers - we went behind the scenes to film the making of 'Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience' see the results here.
Llandovery are aiming to make it three titles in a row in this year's Foster's National 7s being held at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 28 August. Drovers assistant coach Simon Davies and Lee Rees assess their sides chances
A pioneering strength and conditioning programme has been delivered to more than 8000 boys and girls at hub schools throughout Wales this season, helping to develop stronger, more flexible athletes for rugby and other sports.