Josh Lewsey - "the Welshman who got away" - says regional rugby is working in Wales.
The England and London Wasps fullback - whose mother is a Welsh speaker and was born in Cwmllynfell - was on the receiving end of last Sunday's Heineken Cup loss to the Celtic Warriors, and says the new-look regional system should get the credit.
"Welsh rugby has been through a torrid time recently," Lewsey said in a newspaper column.
"Some doubters questioned it at the time, but the positive performances of their national team in the World Cup, aligned with the competitive nature of Celtic Warriors, Llanelli Scarlets and The Dragons, clearly vindicates the changes.
"It's an unfortunate situation but a brave necessity in order to maintain the existence of the professional game."
Lewsey added: "Whole communities in Wales, along with the game in general, need Welsh rugby to be strong and it seems after a few fallow years that it certainly is where it's going.
"Yet from my point of view they can continue this renaissance once our game against Celtic Warriors finishes."
The return game in Pool Six takes place at the Brewery Field on Friday and Lewsey is looking forward to playing in front of a sellout 10,000-strong crowd.
"The result at the Causeway Stadium will make the re-match on Friday night mouth-watering prospect," Lewsey said. "Pool Six is the tightest of all, with three teams level top with 10points. Consequently, the next two away games are simply must-wins for us to progress."
Despite drawing with Ireland in the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards believes the championship 'is still in our hands' as he prepares his side to face Scotland at Principality Stadium tomorrow.
Meet the members of the WRU's inaugural Youth Board - after an online selection process which saw a host of high calibre candidates submit video applications the WRU has made its first 15 appointments.The board is made up of individuals aged between 16 and 21, and will meet for the first time at Principality Stadium on Monday 15th February.
The Wales Women's team headed to Dare Valley Country Park on a team bonding exercise as the entire squad got together for the very first time in preparation for this season's Six Nations championship which kicks off on Saturday with a clash against defending champions Ireland, in Donnybrook.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland discusses his team selection for the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations where he leads his side against Ireland, on Sunday. As WRU TV's Luke Brodley discovers, Gatland is fully aware of the challenges the defending champions pose