Warren Gatland is welcomed back to the Millennium Stadium by Roger Lewis.
Warren Gatland is back - the British and Irish Lions forwards coach has resumed his position at the helm of Wales' national rugby side.
Gatland met up with WRU Group chief executive Roger Lewis at the Millennium Stadium, the same day it was announced thousands of tickets are now on public sale for the forthcoming Invesco Perpetual Series.
Gatland landed at WRU headquarters at the heart of the national ground in Cardiff to debrief Lewis about his experiences on tour in South Africa and discuss plans for Wales' own historic challenge this Autumn, as they face the international quartet of New Zealand, Samoa, Argentina and Australia.
Wales provided a 13-strong playing contingent and made a seven-man contribution to the Lions back room staff as the tourists took on the world champions in their own back yard this summer and, from players to coaches to analysts and fitness experts, each has returned from facing the Springboks much the wiser for the experience, says Lewis:
"Warren is in buoyant mood, the tour finished on a high with a win over the Springboks and those players, coaches and back room staff who have represented Wales on the tour have done both themselves and their nation proud and learnt a great deal.
"But there is nothing like the looming prospect of playing a trio of teams positioned significantly higher than you in the IRB World ranking systems, together with Samoa who are only three spots behind, to help focus the mind on the task ahead - the Invesco Perpetual Series to be played out at the Millennium Stadium this November.
"The Lions may have lost the series, but they finished with a victory and Warren and his coaches and players are now tasked with continuing that momentum as they build towards kicking off the international season against the All Blacks on 7 November."
A few hundred tickets, mainly singles, remain for the first match of the series, the return of the world's top ranked team to the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, 7 November (Kick-off 17.15).
Remaining tickets number in their thousands for the return of the world's third best side, Australia - a fixture which sees the Wallabies attempt to reclaim the James Bevan Trophy after defeat to Wales last year. That game is the series climax on Saturday, 28 November (Kick-off 17.15) and the remaining price categories for both those matches ranges between £55 and £65.
Samoa, who are just outside the IRB rankings top 10, feature on Friday, 13 (Kick-off 19.30) in a match which has captured Welsh rugby's imagination already. Family-friendly pricing means the top category for the visit of the South Sea Islanders (£20) has completely sold out, through the WRU club/debenture holder priority system or the public pre-registration scheme, and only £15 and £10 (U16 concession) tickets are now available.
The Pumas, currently lying two places above Wales in the world rankings in 6th, come to town on Saturday, 21 November, with remaining tickets for that game ranging between £35 and £55 - all tickets are available now (Friday, 10 July) from www.wru.co.uk/tickets or the NEW tickethotline number 08442 777888.
"Our coaches, Warren, Rob Howley, Shaun Edwards, Neil Jenkins and Craig White and analysts Rhys Long and Rhodri Bown return to Wales richer for the experience of a magnificent tour and our players will stand taller knowing the integral part they played in making it a success," added Lewis.
"Credit must go to the whole of Northern Hemisphere rugby, Ian McGeechan and his team and all of the Lions for what they achieved in that third Test, but the great thing from a Welsh perspective is our squad have an opportunity now to pick up where the Lions left off with a fixture list we have created this Autumn which provides top quality world opposition.
"Lesser men may demand some respite, but our players and coaches are true professionals and there is nothing they are going to like more than effectively facing South Africa and New Zealand in back to back fixtures and testing themselves against another three of the world's top sides.
"And for the Wales squad returning from our successful tour of North America their challenge now is to re-integrate with the Lions stars and continue to raise the standard - a challenge which they will also relish.
"When a rugby man of the stature and experience of Warren Gatland tells you he has been enriched by a tour and it has made him and his colleagues better coaches and his players better players that's something that should send a shot of adrenalin through the whole of Welsh rugby in expectation of what could be to come."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.