The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Derrick Morgan, with the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup at today's trophy handover at Cardiff Castle.
The countdown to one of Europe's great sporting weekends is fully underway following today's handover in the Welsh capital of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup trophies to the Lord Mayor of Cardiff.
Councillor Derrick Morgan accepted the two pieces of silverware at City Hall just under a fortnight before thousands of supporters from all corners of the continent descend on Cardiff for the 2014 Amlin Challenge Cup and Heineken Cup finals on the weekend of 23 and 24 May.
Cardiff is steeped in European club rugby history having hosted six Heineken Cup finals and one Amlin Challenge Cup decider to date, and the city remains a hugely compelling destination for rugby fans. The finals also form a showpiece event during the city's year as European Capital of Sport 2014.
Supporters can still buy tickets for the Heineken Cup decider at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday week which promises to be a classic Anglo-French clash between holders, RC Toulon, and Saracens, while the Amlin Challenge Cup final featuring Bath Rugby and Northampton Saints at the Cardiff Arms Park the evening before is a sell-out.
Cardiff is set to reap a host of additional benefits with research following ERC's 2011 finals demonstrating that the economic impact on the Welsh capital from the 83,000 fans who attended the games amounted to £24 million, with 70,000 of those supporters coming from outside Wales.
Both finals, which will feature players from as many as 15 nations including such stars of the global game as Jonny Wilkinson, George North, Schalk Brits and Bryan Habana, will be broadcast in more than 150 countries worldwide with additional news coverage in the days building to the showpiece weekend.
ERC has entered into a partnership with Cardiff City Council to create a European Champions Village fan experience outside Cardiff Castle. With Duke Street pedestrianised on the Saturday of the Heineken Cup final, the Champions Village will be open from midday and will offer a perfect opportunity for locals to savour the unique atmosphere of a major European rugby occasion.
The Village will be the focal point for a gathering of fans, both local and overseas with live music, interactive games, a Heineken Cup trophy photo booth, a big screen, Heineken bars and local cuisine as well as special guests from the world of rugby.
As part of the build-up to the finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players. More than 100 players aged between 11 and 12 from seven schools in the Cardiff region took part in a qualification festival as part of the programme targeting schools which are not traditionally associated with rugby.
The winning schools, Radyr and St Telios High School, will compete in the final of the inaugural Cardiff 2014 Rugby Cup at the Amlin Challenge Cup final venue, Cardiff Arms Park, on Wednesday week.
Tickets are available for the Heineken Cup final via ticketmaster.co.uk and Ticketlineuk in Cardiff with full details on www.ercrugby.com/finals
Friday, 23 May Amlin Challenge Cup final
Bath Rugby v Northampton Saints
Cardiff Arms Park 8.00pm
Saturday, 24 May European Champions Village
Duke Street from 12 noon
Wales Head Coach Rob Howley talks to WRU TV's Sebastian Barrett about the 36-man squad he has just named for the forthcoming Under Armour series, which includes two uncapped players, Ospreys duo Sam Davies and Rory Thornton.
Head coach Rowland Phillips is deligthed he can now call BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park home for his Wales Women's side, who launch their international season next month with games against Scotland and UK Armed Forces in the heart of the capital city.
Wales Sevens star Sam Cross has put his home town club of Brynmawr on the map after winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics with Team GB. His club have now honoured him by naming their players bar after him, as WRU TV discovered at the official launch, recently.
One of the newest members of the Principality Premiership, Bargoed admit it's proving to be a steep learning curve at the highest level, but are determined to become a force to be reckoned with. WRU TV visited the club last weekend when they took on Llanelli.
Table-topping Aberavon travel to north Wales to tackle RGC 1404 as both teams defend unbeaten starts to the season in the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie visited the Wizards to see how their preparations were going for the game of the weekend.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.