Cardiff Blues player, Sam Warburton was enthusiastic about being involved in the SWALEC Junior Stars prize day: "The SWALEC Junior Stars is a great initiative to reward young teams for their hard work. I am delighted that I can use my experience to teach this group more about the game and the sportsmanship that is so important to every sport."
The SWALEC Junior Stars competition was launched in November by leading energy provider, SWALEC and the Welsh Rugby Union, who invited nominations from clubs, schools, parents and other supporters to identify Under 13, 14 or 15 rugby teams who deserved the chance to take part in this 'once in a lifetime' event.
After searching Wales-wide, four teams were selected for their exceptional commitment both on and off the pitch - Llanelli's Ysgol Gyfun Maes Yr Yrfa's Under 13 School team, Aberavon Harlequins RFC U14 team, Carmarthen Quins RFC Girls Under 15 team and Fairwater RFC Under 14 team.
The four sides were put through their paces in an enjoyable but energetic training session on the very pitch the International team prepare, followed by an intimate question and answer opportunity with Head Coach, Warren Gatland, Kicking Coach, Neil Jenkins, Forwards Coach, Robin McBryde, Sam Warburton, Wales and Cardiff Blues player, Richie Rees and Wales player, Elinor Snowsill.
Connor Duval, from Fairwater's U14 team, said, "The chance to train in the same place as where the Welsh team themselves train was fantastic. The boys and I will remember this experience for a very long time- a brilliant day!"
Fairwater RFC U14 team received an impressive nomination from dedicated parent, Jo Walsh, detailing the commitment and camaraderie the young boys show on and off the pitch. The players come from a range of backgrounds and schools, including Radyr, Bishop of Llandaff, Corpus Christi and predominantly Cantonian.
Alan Williams, Director of Energy Supply, SWALEC, commented, "As a leading energy supplier in Wales for decades, we are committed to supporting the communities that support us. Sponsorship is one way for us to do that. Our aim is to foster sporting talent and increase participation and enjoyment in the sports we support. We hope that initiatives such as the SWALEC Junior Stars will help to reward those teams that show a real commitment to grassroots rugby and the wider community beyond the local clubhouse."
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis commented: "The WRU is well aware of the great contribution made by young players, who add enthusiasm and energy to grassroots rugby. The players in these junior sides are the future of our game, both at elite and community level and it's vital that we continue to encourage and support their efforts both on and off the rugby pitch."