Wales coach Warren Gatland says the double sell-out announced by the Welsh Rugby Union for matches against New Zealand and Australia, to be played at either end of the four match Invesco Perpetual Series this November, does justice to what will be 'the best Series of his rugby career'
Gatland has been guaranteed the vital 13-day preparation period he requires before the Series starts, by the new five-year participation agreement the WRU and each of the four Welsh Regions signed earlier this week, and he says this factor also 'represents a major boost to preparations'.
News that a quarter of a million tickets have already been sold for the campaign, which includes tough fixtures against Argentina and Samoa, means the few remaining official hospitality packages still available for each match are now the only way fans can see Wales take on the world's second and third ranked teams at the Millennium Stadium this Autumn.
And the former British and Irish Lions, Ireland, London Wasps and Waikato coach, whose claims about the standard of opposition for this campaign are even more impressive in the light of his illustrious career, says he is he is fully expecting matches against the Pumas and Samoa to capture the public imagination as well.
"This four match series will represent the best collective opposition I have faced in my rugby career, as a player or coach," said Gatland.
"We are facing two of the top three teams in the world and if that wasn't enough we face Argentina, who are ranked sixth in the world, and two places above Wales, and Samoa who are one of the most exciting teams in world rugby.
"There's nothing like testing yourself against the very best opposition the world can offer on home turf in front of sell-out crowds.
"It's a major boost for us that these two games have sold out so quickly and I have no doubt that the standard of opposition we face in terms of the Samoans and the Pumas will spark the public imagination as well.
"From a coaching point of view the fact that we now have the full 13-day period to prepare for the Series will also make a vital contribution to how we approach the campaign.
"We will be able to make sure that players are right back up to international pace and primed for the task ahead in those first few days and will then be able to concentrate on the finer points of preparation without rushing our way through anything. The difference it will make to us is immeasurable."
Fans who have missed out on tickets for either New Zealand (date) or Australia games can still purchase individual tickets via the Millennium Stadium's 'Bar 10' hospitality packages. This is official WRU hospitality on site at the Millennium Stadium with a complimentary bar, guest speaker and high standard of ticket guaranteed - for the price of £179 per person for the All Blacks match and £169 per person to see the Wallabies
Platinum boxes, the hospitality package with the highest specification, have sold out for both games, but WRU bosses have also opened up Gold Suite packages - boxes which normally contain 12 guests from one source and include a two course buffet, complimentary bar and other extras - to now offer shared access for just £299 per person.
"The Bar 10 package has proved particularly popular," added Gwyn Dolphin, head of marketing for the WRU Group.
"Official hospitality is now the only way to gain individual access to either the New Zealand or the Australia game and the limited places will go fast as they are very competitively priced.
"When we announce sell-outs people suddenly get desperate for tickets and the demand will also intensify as we get closer to the fixtures, but fans don't necessarily think of buying hospitality on an individual basis.
"We have some excellent packages offering real value for money for individual fans across the four match series. Hospitality for the Friday night Samoa fixture, for example, is less than £100 per person and we start at less than £150 per person for the Argentina match.
"It's a great way to watch your rugby and be treated like a VIP for the day and. because it is all official WRU product, you are guaranteed to get what you pay for."
Official WRU Hospitality, which is still available in selected areas for all four Invesco Perpetual Series matches, can be purchased through the hotline number 08443 722 722 - full package details are available online at www.wru.co.uk .
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