ERC CHIEF EXECUTIVE DEREK MCGRATH:
"After considering all points of view, the board decided to move the
opening two rounds of the Heineken Cup from September to October and rounds three and four to December.
"The Pool stages will once again be completed in January, but we have moved
the quarter-finals so that the whole of the knock-out phase will now be completed after the Six Nations championship.
"We also decided to build in a one week gap before and after internationals in consideration of the demands on players and their preparations for international matches."
ERC CHAIRMAN, JEAN-PIERRE LUX:
"By separating the Pool stages from the knock-out phase it also means we can
now focus on two distinct phases of the tournament and develop momentum for
"It also means more clubs will be involved for a longer period in the
tournament, therefore maintaining a wider interest in the competition.
"We did consider a six week block for the Pool stages, as well as a proposal
for two blocks of three matches. In the end, three groups of two games
received more support.
"ERC feels that by having blocks of two matches of the tournament allows
the clubs to promote key home and away fixtures in three significant rugby
The format of the PARKER PEN SHIELD for next season was also discussed and
the board resolved to develop the concept of a knock-out format for the
competition for next season.
There will be a special meeting of the ERC rugby sub-committee in the near
future to further discuss the matter and table plans. In the meantime, the
clubs, Unions, sponsors and broadcasters will continue to be consulted.
HEINEKEN CUP 2002/2003
Round 1: 11/12/13 October
Round 2: 18/19/20 October
Round 3: 6/7/8 December
Round 4: 13/14/15 December
Round 5: 10/11/12 January
Round 6: 17/18/19 January
Quarter-Finals: 11/12/13 April
Semi-Finals: 26/27 April
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL: 24 May
Porthcawl recently received a WRU facilities grant and funding from Natwest RugbyForce in order to give their changing rooms a facelift. This came after receiving £10,000 in a WRU facilities grant last year to tarmac their car park. The improvements have already helped to make the club more accessible, not only for their own members and players but for the whole community.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a new, accredited Safeguarding and Protecting Children course - funded by the WRU and delivered in partnership with Sport Wales and the NSPCC - fo rugby club volunteers around Wales.
The SWALEC semi-final draws threw up some mouth-watering clashes in the Cup, Plate and Bowl as the 12 teams aim for the Millennium Stadium Finals Day. All the semi-finals are to be played on the weekend of April 12.
Welsh whistler Rhys Thomas continues to scale the heights of the game as he prepares to be an official in this weekend's Hong Kong Sevens tournament, undoubtedly the showpiece event on the World Series calendar.
Wales International Ian Evans and Wales and Lions legend Scott Quinnell swapped rugby balls for paint pots at Tonna during the RBS 6 Nations. They surprised club players with a special clubhouse makeover to launch NatWest RugbyForce 2014 - a programme developed in partnership with the WRU to make rugby clubs stronger businesses by improving and renovating their facilities with the support of volunteers and the local community.
Fresh from claiming the Bowl honours in Tokyo last Sunday, the Wales Sevens squad have settled into their routine as they prepare for this weekend's Hong Kong tournament where Iolo Evans is aiming high, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
The Welsh Rugby Union has recently teamed up with Prostate Cymru to help the charity launch its latest campaign to raise awareness of the disease. Members of the Wales squad helped produce a short video and promotional material for the campaign titled 'The Best Defence - is to know the FACTS'.