The Heineken Cup kicks off for it's eighth season on October 11th 2002, promising more of the drama, excitement and heartbreak that has gripped Europe since the tournament's inception in 1995
From relatively humble beginnings at Farul Constanta on the Black Sea, the Heineken Cup has grown into a tournament of international prestige, widely described by coaches and players as the tournament to be involved in, and the tournament to win.
Last year's final in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium saw the 2001 champions Leicester Tigers tackle the 2000 finalists Munster Rugby.
The setting was fitting for the biggest game of the season, and 74,600 fans- the biggest Heineken Cup crowd ever - saw a titanic battle under the closed room of the Cardiff showpiece stadium.
Leicester reigned supreme, winning 15-9 and going home with the trophy for the second year running.
And Leicester are back in Wales to defend their crown for the opening game of this year's competition. The Tigers travel to the Gnoll to take on Neath on Friday.
All this week on wru.co.uk we will take a look at our entrants to this year's competition.
Wales have five sides involved this season, but who will progress furthest? Today we take a look at Leicester's opponents on opening night, Neath...
Neath qualified for the Heineken Cup by virtue of their third place finish in last season's Welsh/Scottish League.
A strong run at the end of the competition saw the Welsh All Blacks pushing for top spot, and they have continued their fine form into this year's Celtic League.
Led by Wales lock Gareth Llewellyn, the Neath pack have shown this season they can win by frustrating the opposition, and winning penalties in deep positions. In kicker Lee Jarvis they have a powerful weapon. Jarvis was Welsh rugby's leading points scorer last season.
Behind the scrum Neath have European pedigree in the shape of Andy Moore. Moore played in the first Heineken Cup final at the Arms Park in '96, and his leadership skills are still a driving force for Neath.
Coach Lyn Jones believes his side have enough in the locker to beat Leicester, and his men will need all that confidence in order to get a result. If they do, then fancy Neath to do well in the competition.
Beziers and Amatori & Calvisano make up Neath's group, and if Lyn Jones reckons his side can beat Leicester, then you can bet your bottom dollar he's banking on victories in these games.
Tomorrow, read our assessment of Llanelli.
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October 11th v Leicester (home)
October 19th v Beziers (away)
weekend of 6th Dec. v Ama' & Cal'(away)
weekend of 13th Dec v Ama' & Cal (home)
weekend of 10th Jan v Beziers (home)
weekend of 17 Jan v Leicester (away)
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'.
Defending champions Coleg Sir Gar reached their second consecutive Millennium Stadium final as they defeated Coleg Gwent in the WRU Wednesday Under 18 play-off. Watch highlights of their narrow 10-8 win here.