The Heineken Cup quarter-finalists will do battle on the weekend of April 11 / 12 to secure coveted last four places - as well as competing to secure valuable ERC European Ranking points for the 2009/10 Heineken Cup draw for the composition of the six Pools.
The ERC European Ranking system, which was introduced for the draw for the current tournament, aims to reward and incentivise teams who consistently perform at the highest level in European competition over four seasons by separating the leading teams in the Pool stages.
With an excellent European run this season, Pool 4 winners Harlequins have jumped from 35th to 21st in the ERC European Rankings while their quarter-final opponents Leinster just need a win at the Twickenham Stoop to move into the Top Tier of six teams for the first time.
Bath Rugby have moved into the Top Tier in the rankings having qualified for the quarter-finals as Pool 6 winners and earned five ranking points while reigning champions Munster and formers winners Leicester Tigers and Toulouse also look set to retain their top Tier status for next season.
Both Welsh regions in the quarter-finals have also improved their European Rankings with Cardiff Blues jumping from 17th to 8th position and the Ospreys moving from 15th to 12th and are both now in contention for Tier 2 status if they qualify for next season's draw.
The 24 competing teams in the Heineken Cup who qualify through their domestic tournaments are, for the purposes of the Pool draw, awarded different points for their finishing positions in the two ERC organised competitions, the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup, over the previous four seasons.
Teams can earn between one to 11 points each season in the Heineken Cup and up to five points in the European Challenge Cup to go towards their four season roll-over ERC European Ranking.
The rankings are used to establish four tiers of six teams each with the reigning Heineken Cup champions automatically going into top spot of Tier 1 along with Europe's other, currently, most successful teams.
The draw for the 2009/10 tournament will again distribute one team from each of the four Tier levels into each of the six Pools. As before, no teams from the same country will be drawn in the same Pool with the exception of when there are seven teams qualified from either England or France.
The Rankings for next season's tournament will be compiled from points earned in the 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09 seasons.
(Points per stage - Total points)
Winner - 2 - 10 / 11
Finalist - 2 - 8 / 9
Semi-finalist - 2 - 6 / 7
Quarter-finalist - 1 - 4 / 5
Pool winner - 4
Pool runner-up - 3
Pool third - 2
Pool fourth - 1
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
(Points per stage - Total points)
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.