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
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.
Dodgy tattoos, carthorses, Avatar and soft chins are revealed by Wales Sevens players Tom Williams and Sam Cross as they profile the Wales Sevens squad taking part in Hong Kong this weekend in the latest round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The youngest member of the Wales Women's squad, Keira Bevan, is hoping to repay the faith shown in her when she starts her first Six Nations game against Italy tomorrow evening in the final round of the championship.
Sevens head coach Gareth Williams is a happy man after drafting in full internationals Rhodri Williams and Adam Warren for the next two rounds of the world series in Hong Kong and Japan, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.