Pontypridd RFC will kick off their 2009 - 2010 Principality Premiership campaign with a home tie against the Drovers of Llandovery, the game on Saturday 29th August kicking off at 2:30pm.
Expectations are high at Ponty as a new season gets under way, but the team will have to go out full tilt to make the most of their home advantage against opponents who have always been difficult to overcome.
A heavy defeat away at Llandovery and a cliff hanger of a draw at home last season meant that the Drovers were the only team that Ponty failed to beat during the course of the campaign. The drawn game at Sardis in early May was crucial to Llandovery in their battle to avoid relegation.
There are injuries to report amongst the Ponty squad, with centre Gavin Dacey struggling to overcome a calf strain, scrum half Gavin Morris with knee ligament damage, prop Stuart Williams with back problems and hookers Tom Hetherington and Rhys Williams with ankle and rib damage respectively.
The good news for Pontpriddis that outside half Aaron Bramwell has trained hard with no reaction to his recent ankle injury, with flanker Wayne O'Connor also reporting in fit from his shoulder strain.
Adam Thomas steps straight into the Ponty line-up, not long returned from a stint playing in New Zealand, with the Blues prop pairing of Sam Hobbs and Pat Palmer shoring up the home scrum.
The Pontypridd team selected to face Llandovery is as follows:
15.Matthew Nuthall. 14.Chris Clayton. 13.Adam Thomas. 12.Dafydd Lockyer. 11.Lewis Williams. 10.Aaron Bramwell. 9.Rhys Downes.1.Sam Hobbs. 2.Huw Dowden. 3.Pat Palmer. 4.Ryan Savage. 5.Chris Dicomidis. 6.Kristian Dacey. 7.Wayne O'Connor. 8.Nathan Strong - cpt.
Subs: Kristian Baller; Dean Gunter; Lee Thorne; Ryan Harford; Rhys Lloyd; Chris Martenko; John Williams.
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'.