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)
Wales 7s Manager Steff Thomas believes Luke Treharne has all the attriubutes to be a top class captain. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie hears his reasons why as the squad prepare for the opening two legs of the new World Series in Dubai and South Africa.
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.