Welsh Deaf rugby team captain Richard Evans will follow in the footsteps of his former Wales Youth team mate Scott Gibbs when he leads his team out against New Zealand at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday.
The game against the All Blacks will be the opening match in the inaugural Deaf
Rugby World Championship and a crowd of around 20,000 is expected to witness
the launch of the four nation tournament.
It was at Eden Park in 1993 that Gibbs scored one of his most famous tries, for the Lions against the All Blacks. That was four years after he had played in the same Wales Youth side as Evans.
New Zealand, not surprisingly, are ranked number one in the world and they
beat the Australian side 19-17 at Stadium Australia last week in a game that was a warm-up match for the Tri-Nations Test.
Australia and Fiji are the other teams taking part in the first Deaf World
Cup and Japan will be sending a team to compete in a separate sevens tournament.
Wales have played eight internationals to date, including a three-Test home series against the All Blacks in 1998, and the current team has been preparing for almost 18 months for their three-week World Cup adventure.
Each of the 27 players had to raise Â£1,000 and the overall cost to the Welsh Deaf Rugby Union is around Â£120,000 though the Welsh Rugby Union made a contribution towards the cost.
Former Maesteg scrum half Neville Roberts, currently coaching Maesteg Quins, is the Wales coach, assisted by WRU development officer Richard Davies and Royal Marines PTI Chris Morgan. Their squad comes from all over Wales and there are also a few London-based players, while they age from 19 to 44.
"Luke Hamm, from Newtown, is our youngest player at 19 and then we have
the veteran Paul Lewis at the other end of the scale at 44," said Evans,who has been deaf on his right side since birth.
After facing New Zealand in the opening match, Wales move on to play Australia
at Waitemata Park on August 15 and then Fiji on August 18 at College Rifles,
both in Auckland. The third place play-off and the final both take place at
Eden Park on August 24.
The Welsh management team, led by Welsh Deaf Rugby Union chairman Geoff Richards, will be taking a close look at the organisation of the tournament
having already launched a bid to bring the second Deaf Rugby World Championship to Wales in 2005.
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'.