The Principality Premiership kicks off this weekend, with a bright future ahead for the 14 club competition.
Principality Building Society has renewed its title sponsorship of the premier club competition in Wales in a three year deal, while Welsh language broadcaster S4C has announced it will cover up to 10 live Premiership matches this season (2008/09), giving the top club competition in Wales increased profile and value.
These announcements follow changes to the Premiership rules which are set to raise the standard of rugby in the Principality Premiership and create a more competitive environment for the development of future regional and international players.
The new rules include a regulation to allow Premiership sides to utilise an unlimited number of regional and regional academy players not involved in regional games.
The Principality Building Society Premiership kicks off on (Saturday) September 6 with four times champions Neath facing a fierce battle from a host of contenders wishing to take the top spot.
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said, "I am delighted to confirm Principality Building Society's continued support of the Premiership for the next three years. The Premiership has gone from strength to strength since Principality joined us three years ago both on and off the field and the next three years promise to be even more exciting.
"There is a genuine new-look to the top flight of our club game with the reforms of the regulations promising to forge even stronger and more meaningful bonds between the regions and their feeder Premiership clubs, a partnership that is vital to the nurturing and development of the latent talent with which we are blessed.
"The changes mean the coming Principality Premiership season has all the potential to significantly raise the bar and set new highs of quality, intensity, stature and excitement and, in the process, play an increasingly prominent role in the long term health of the national game.
"It is fantastic news for the Premiership that S4C have recognised the value of the Principality Premiership and decided to increase their level of coverage at this level. Television is a vital tool in the promotion of our game and we are grateful to both S4C and our other broadcast partners BBC Wales for their continued support."
Graeme Yorston, Chief Operating Officer at Principality Building Society, said: "The Premiership is a great fit for us. We have had a long association with rugby in Wales and we are delighted to work in partnership with the WRU once again. We believe that Welsh rugby should be celebrated and as such we are pleased to also be the broadcast sponsors of the Principality Premiership on S4C, helping to raise the profile and appetite for our game throughout the country.
"The Premiership is pivotal in the Welsh rugby triangle - developing talented, young players and helping them progress to the regional sides and the Welsh team. It's great that we can support the WRU in ensuring that the Principality Building Society Premiership is a highly competitive and progressive division.
"We look forward to the next three years with excited anticipation. The Premiership is a vital stepping stone in helping players get from the village playing field to the professional game and I am sure we will be in for another top quality Principality Building Society Premiership season starting this weekend."
Geraint Rowlands, S4C's Sports Content Editor said: "There is a great deal of passionate support for the clubs in the Principality Premiership and we are delighted to be able to show some of the top matches involving clubs that have such a rich tradition. The coverage completes our comprehensive line up of Welsh rugby action that includes the Magners League, Heineken Cup, SWALEC Cup and Invesco Perpetual Autumn Series and RBS Six Nations matches."
Byron Mugford, representative of the Premier Division, said:
"The Premiership clubs wish to thank the Principality Building Society for their continued support of the Premier Division. The Premier Division is very competitive and its role in developing the rugby stars of the future has been given an additional boost by this sponsorship announcement.
"The additional match exposure provided by S4C will also help to enhance the profile of the Premiership, enabling Welsh rugby followers to better appreciate the high quality of rugby being played and recognise the Welsh Internationals of the future."
S4C televised matches in 2008 (2009 televised matches tbc)
Saturday October 4th Ebbw Vale v Newport 17.30
Saturday October 11th Neath v Newport 17.30
Saturday October 18th Llanelli v Pontypridd 17.30
Saturday November 1st Pontypool v Pontypridd 17.30
Saturday December 13th Aberavon v Swansea 17.30
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.
Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams looks back on the Rio Sevens success where he helped GB win silver. He believes the successful campaign is a huge boost to his Welsh squad as they prepare for another World Series, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will be heading back home to take on the All Blacks next year where for him, success for 2017 is all about going to New Zealand and winning a Test Series.
Last week all roads led to Eugene Cross Park where defending champions Ebbw Vale hosted this season's launch of the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie was there to capture the thoughts of Damien Hudd, captain of Ebbw Vale, and WRU Head of Performance, Geraint John.
Llandovery made it three in a row when they defeated Aberavon in the final of the National Foster's 7s at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday. On another eventful day of sevens, Newport claimed the Plate and the Dragons won the women's crown
Last week saw Cardiff welcome players from around the world for the 21st Golden Oldies Festival. The tournament features players over 35 years of age, and this year's event saw a select few represent the WRU in a 'friendly' against the Wooden Spoon.
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.