Rob McCusker wants the Scarlets to put a run of performances together next term
Scarlets skipper Rob McCusker reckons greater consistency is the key to the region ending their decade-long trophy drought.
It has been 10 years since the West Walians battled past Ulster 23-16 at Stradey Park to become the first Welsh region to win the Celtic league. Since then the trophy cabinet at Parc Y Scarlets has remained unopened, but skipper McCusker is hoping to clinch a piece of silverware next year.
"Consistency has been our downfall - not being able to back up a decent performance with another one. That's what we are working on, to hit a performance level and stay there," said McCusker.
"You have to do very well if you want to get into a final. We'd like to think we'd be there or thereabouts, that's what we try to drive towards when we go into work every day. But it is getting more competitive each season, in Europe and in the PRO12. Even the Amlin Challenge Cup is a really tough competition right to the end."
The Scarlets are losing Jonathan Davies to Clermont Auvergne but are bringing Regan King back to the region from France, while Wales wing Harry Robinson will increase their firepower out wide.
They have also negotiated a fresh deal with Davies' brother Jamie, a highly-rated flanker, and have re-signed prop Peter Edwards and given fellow front rower Wyn Jones a full-time contract.
"We've recruited in a couple of areas where we might have been lacking over the past couple of years, so I think we're building a decent team," added McCusker, who saw the Scarlets finish sixth in this season's RaboDirect PRO12 having reached the final four the previous year.
"We have a new forwards coach as well (Wayne Pivac). If we can keep building on what we've done under Danny (Wilson) over the past couple of years, we won't be far off.
"We can go so far, but then you come up against the likes of Clermont Auvergne in Europe and they are able to bring experienced internationals off the bench, which makes a difference. We have played them over the past couple of years and done okay for 60 minutes, but then you see (Aurélien) Rougerie going off and Benson Stanley coming on and it can get tough. But we are building and we are all determined to push on."
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
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.