Pontypridd prop Sam Hobbs has capped a memorable week by winning the final Principality Premiership Player of the Month award of the 2008/09 season. The award comes after the Brecon-born front row made his regional debut for the Blues in their final Magners League match of the season on Sunday.
Hobbs won the award with votes from Premiership coaches and WRU elite performance development professionals and will receive £100 from Principality Building Society, title sponsors of the Premiership.
Hobbs said, "After competing in the Junior World Championship last summer, I set myself some personal goals, one of which was to gain twenty first team appearances for Pontypridd. I've achieved that and to get my Blues debut on the weekend was a brilliant end to the season for me personally.
"We have played well as a team at Pontypridd this season and it's good to get some recognition, both in terms of awards like this but also in terms of the Blues coaches giving me a chance.
"We've done a lot of hard work within the Blues academy this season - I was set some conditioning targets and I have met those which have obviously had a positive impact on my game.
"Dale McIntosh has had a huge influence on me over the years. I was first coached by him as a 14 year old playing for the Merthyr / South Powys district side, and as I come from Brecon, where there aren't too many top class rugby professionals, Dale really pushed me in the right direction. Nowadays, he is forwards coach with Ponty and skills coach at the Blues academy so he has continued to help my development a great deal."
Hobbs played for Brecon RFC through junior and youth rugby until he joined Pontypridd at the start of the 2006/07 season. After a promising season with Pontypridd he hopes to continue where he left off when the new season kicks off.
"My aim now is to get a good pre-season under my belt and hopefully get a few more appearances for the Blues next season. However, if that doesn't happen straight away, I'm also looking forward to the season with Pontypridd. We're determined to do well again in the Principality Premiership and SWALEC Cup - and we've also got the fresh new challenge of the British and Irish Cup to look forward to."
Dale McIntosh said, "Sam has a great attitude and work ethic, he is extremely keen to learn and there is no reason he shouldn't make the step up to regional rugby, especially with the support Dai Young has shown for our upcoming youngsters. Sam is an intelligent player who can adapt to both sides of the scrum and he has worked very hard this season, particularly from a conditioning point of view, significantly improving his lean muscle mass. He will hopefully train with the senior Blues squad over the summer and I'm sure we will see a lot more of Sam in the future."
Nicola Robinson, Manager of Pontypridd branch of Principality Building Society said, "Congratulations to Sam on winning the Principality Player of the Month award. Sam is a central figure in the Pontypridd team who contributed to their solid wins against Newport, Pontypool and Bridgend during April.
"This has been an exciting season of the Principality Building Society Premiership, the talent on the field has certainly raised the quality of the rugby. We look forward to August and the kick-off to a brand new season and wish Pontypridd every success."
Sam Hobbs factfile DoB: 13.5.88 Place of birth: Brecon Club: Pontypridd Nickname: Ram / The Brecon Ram Player most admired: Gethin Jenkins Sportsperson most admired: Mohammed Ali Biggest impact on career: Dale McIntosh Occupation: Studying sports coaching at UWIC
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.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.