A full Scarlets playing squad will be making a star appearance at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Bala this week as part of a tour of the region during the pre-season summer programme.
The team will be visiting the festival event in North Wales on Friday (7th August) and will be meeting supporters, community representatives, charities and local businesses that they are linked with during the tour of the region.
The National Eisteddfod of Wales, visited by around 160,000 people each year is being held in Bala, North Wales from August 1st - 8th with the Scarlets' touring retail unit based at the Maes throughout the week.
And as part of their journey to North Wales, the squad, coaches and off-field Scarlets team will be meeting rugby club officials, members and Scarlets supporters from Newtown RFC and Aberaeron RFC as well as running skills sessions with junior players.
The entire playing squad will visit the Eisteddfod with a number of the region's North Wales players in attendance.This includes new winger Andrew Fenby (originally from Rhos-on-Sea nr Llandudno) who has signed for the Scarlets from Newcastle Falcons; back row Rob McCusker (formerly Mold RFC) and centre Rob Higgitt (from St Asaph, Denbighshire formerly of Ruthin RFC).
Dafydd Jones will be a star attraction in his hometown of Aberaeron, where he first played rugby in the club's U14 side.
Hundreds of supporters will be meeting and greeting the Scarlets squad on its tour of the rugby clubs, which will include skills sessions with junior sections as well as the opportunity for fans to ask questions, get autographs and have their pictures taken with their heroes.
This is the first time that the whole squad has travelled as a full group to the National Eisteddfod and is the part of a new programme of activity, which will see the Scarlets stars out and about throughout their rugby region on a regular basis.
The schedule will take them from Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli to first stop Newtown Rugby Club, and onto the main Eisteddfodd Maes in Bala where they will take part in activities around the festival field. From North Wales they will journey back visting Aberaeron RFC and then to Carmarthen for a short social visit and back home to Parc y Scarlets.
Rupert Moon, Commercial Director of the Scarlets said:"This is part of a programme of activity which will see the Scarlets out and about in our community - stretching far and wide.The tour on Friday is just the start.
"We have decided this year to stay within our region for all our pre-season training and conditioning and instead of going away on a summer camp, we have organised a number of events and appearances within our region.This will be an excellent trip for us all to be involved with.
"As a club and region we have a heritage which links closely with the themes and culture of the National Eisteddfod; we have the most welsh speaking supporters, proud welsh roots and traditions as well as direct links between the Eisteddfod and some of the greatest former Scarlets including Robin McBryde and of course Ray Gravell.
"We are looking forward to visiting some of the clubs we are linked with.With a squad of players that come from across the region, it is important that when we have the chance we can get into our communities and hopefully inspire future Scarlets stars like Dafydd Jones, Ken Owens, Mark Jones and Stephen Jones."
Nick James of Newtown Rugby Club said:"We are really excited about the visit and I know that our supporters and junior players at the club will give the players and coaches a very warm welcome.The new captain Mark Jones will get an extra special welcome as he is from this part of the world.
"We have had good links with the Scarlets for the past few years and this will be a huge boost for our junior section. The juniors will be training that morning and the squad will be joining in with them, which will be fantastic.
"This is exactly the kind of motivation that young players need and helps encourage more youngsters to join us and be part of the rugby club going forward."
Rob Thomas of Aberaeron Rugby Club said:"This is a great idea and we are very pleased to be part of the Scarlets tour.To see stars of the Scarlets team performing on our rugby field will be a sight in itself and one that the club will remember for years to come.
"I know it will mean a lot to our younger players as well so we'll be proudly flying the Scarlets flag on Friday."
0800 Leave Parc y Scarlets stadium: squad & coaching staff on Scarlets team coach
1100 - 1230 Newtown RFC - Training and skills session with juniors & lunch
1430 - 1600 Eisteddfod, Bala: Visits, press interviews, photos & autographs on Scarlets stand
1830 - 2000 Aberaeron RFC - Skills session with juniors, pictures/autographs
2230 Arrive back at Parc y Scarlets