Nine elite Canadian rugby players have arrived to beef up the newly-launched North Wales regional rugby side, RGC (Rygbi Gogledd Cymru) 1404.
The nine were unveiled today at a special press conference at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, headquarters of the ambitious new region.
RGC 1404 - 1404 commemorates the date when Welsh hero Owain Glyndwr was crowned Prince of Wales - will play at least ten fixtures this season, in a bid to raise the standard of representative rugby in north Wales while developing home grown talent through the establishment of a WRU academy for north Wales.
And this week's snow and ice gave the cream of Canada's up and coming rugby talent an early reminder of home - though back row forward Jebb Sinclair pointed out: "Back in New Brunswick it's -25C and there's two foot of snow. I actually began the trip over here on a skidoo."
For 23-year-old Jebb Wales is a lot closer to home than the headquarters of Canadian rugby in British Columbia on the west coast - New Brunswick on the Atlantic is just 3,000 miles from Colwyn Bay - it's another 4,000 to Vancouver, BC.
No-one was more pleased to see the Canadianms than RGC 1404 coach Clive Griffiths, the dual code international who masterminded the defence strategy of the 2005 Wales Grand Slam side.
He said: "They've settled in very quickly and are really looking forward to getting out on the pitch.
"They're a very committed bunch, their attitude is superb and it's just a question of integrating them along with the boys we have coming up from South Wales with the players we have in the North.
"Certainly the skill levels and the attitude and professionalism is something we want to rub off on our lads. They're from different cultures but at the end of the day we're all rugby people and they know what it's all about.
"They can offer us a lot and we can offer them the chance to get a higher level of competition and a higher standard of rugby than they could back home."
Overseeing the introduction of the Canadians to North Wales is former Canada and Wales lock forward John Tait, now Assistant National Team Coach for his home country, who will be using video monitoring to keep a check on his charges even after he returns to Canada.
He said: "These players are all part of the National Elite squad and train full time and I'm over to help them bed in.
"It's a fantastic opportunity and now it's up to them. They're under some pressure because if they don't cut it the other half of the squad are chomping at the bit to come out and get their chance.
"They're all in contention for places in our World Cup squad in New Zealand next year so this gives them a real opportunity to see them at a higher level.
"We're also delighted to be in at the start of such an ambitious project and to be able to give something back to Welsh rugby."
Jebb Sinclair, with ten caps already including an appearance at the Millennium Stadium against Wales in 2008 - alongside full back Ciaran Hearn who is also in the party - is certainly eying a World Cup place.
He plays for the Castaway Wanderers in Victoria, British Columbia, and said: "It's a great opportunity for me to play at a higher level and I'm really excited about it.
"It's fantastic to be in at the start of this project for North Wales and we can't wait to get out and play."
Prop Tom Dolezel, 25, from London, Ontario, originally chose American football as a career when he was at university and was signed for the Candian Football League by the Calgary Stampeders.
He was a 295-lb defensive tackle but has made the switch back, slimmed down to 262lbs and is now a loose head prop: "It's a lot easier on the knees being 262," he said: "But I'm ecstatic to be here and can't wait to get some games and some experience. It's a huge opportunity for me.
"I'm very raw but I've got a lot of physicality - I just need to learn how to use it."
RGC 1404's first match is scheduled for tomorrow night at Parc Eirias against Leicester Tigers Development XV and nine other fixtures have also been lined up against good quality opposition.
WRU Board representative for North Wales Peredur Jenkins said: "This heralds a new era for rugby in north Wales and is an exciting and innovative development in Welsh rugby.
"Our aim is to give young talented players in north Wales, the chance to develop to their potential within their own area, and to give the people of north Wales high quality rugby on their doorstep.
"I appeal to everyone across north Wales to attend the matches at Parc Eirias to support our own representative team."
Kenton Morgan, chair, CIC Rygbi Gogledd Cymru said: "This is an historic moment in North Wales rugby. It's a new era and a lot of people have contributed from Rugby Canada, the International Rugby Board, the Welsh Rugby Union and Conwy County Borough Council.
"We believe that one day North Wales will be the best team in Europe and it's because of the effort that all those organisations and all the people involved in this have made."
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