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
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips hosted the second meeting of the WRU Youth Board last weekend ahead of the Judgement Day IV regional double-header. Tthe board, made up of 15 under-21-year-olds from around Wales, heard presentations from head of participation Ryan Jones, policy and integrity manager Jeremy Rogers and national women's rugby manager Caroline Spanton, with Pro Rugby Wales CEO Mark Davies also on hand to hear the range of views aired.
Wales duo Rhun Williams and Liam Belcher, who makes a welcome return after five months of injury woe, look ahead to next month's World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester where they will face Ireland, Georgia and New Zealand.
Whenever Bedlinog tackle Penallta a massive fixure is guaranteed but this Sunday there will be even more emphasis placed on the two rivals when they contest the SSE Swalec Plate final at Principality Stadium.
Ahead of their SSE SWALEC Bowl Final clash with Taffs Well at Principality Stadium on Sunday, Burry Port share their #FABXV nomination with WRUTV in the search for Welsh rugby's greatest volunteers. Everyone can get involved by sending nominations via twitter to @WRU_Community using the hashtag #FABXV
Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins and Ospreys centre Ben John look ahead to the first game at Principality Stadium in Saturday's double header which is promising to be a special occasion for all Welsh fans.
Carmarthen Quins Director of Rugby Ian Jones and committee member Jeff Thomas along with Llandovery chairman Handel Davies look ahead to Sunday's SSE SWALEC Cup showdown where both teams are out to prove 'West is best'
SWALEC ambassador Shane WIlliams is looking forward to Sunday's Finals Day where the Cup, Bowl and Plate offers a great opportunity for players and teams to experience the magic of playing at Principality Stadium
Carmarthen Quins coach Richard Kelly believes it is an exciting time to be part of the Scarlets region as his side take on local rivals Llandovery in the SSE Swalec Cup final on Sunday, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers