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
The on and off-field benefits of schools and colleges employing a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub initiative continue to grow with the publication of the first half term figures of the current academic year.
Despite being in a tough group for the World Series opener in Dubai, Wales 7s head coach Gareth Williams says it is an exciting challenge and his squad are in a positive frame of mind, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
Wales 7s captain Luke Treharne may have only played once on the World Series, but he has full confidence in his side as they prepare for the opening two rounds of this year's series in Dubai and South Africa, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
Wales 7s Manager Steff Thomas believes Luke Treharne has all the attriubutes to be a top class captain. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie hears his reasons why as the squad prepare for the opening two legs of the new World Series in Dubai and South Africa.
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia