From next season a new permit system to "draft" an unlimited number of regional or academy players to Premiership clubs will be introduced. This will ensure that the best emerging players get regular rugby in the Premiership to develop their skills and build elite rugby experience.
The system will aim to link as many regional players as possible with their original clubs in a bid for continuity.
A strict set of criteria focusing on pitch quality, coaching, professional development, links with the Regions, conditioning and match analysis will continue to be strengthened and developed.
From the 2009-2010 season the Principality Premiership will contain a maximum of "up to" 14 teams depending on whether the clubs meet the agreed criteria of standards on and off the field.
Development teams involving Academy, Regional and potentially Premiership Division players for up to six games per side will be introduced next season including some cross-border fixtures.
End of season play-offs will also be introduced from next season between the bottom placed Principality Premiership team and Division One play-off winner provided both clubs have met the standards.
The current limit of two foreign or non Wales qualified players per Principality Premiership squad will be maintained unless individual clubs have written consent from the WRU to alter the number. The WRU will also launch a performance analysis project over the next three years to evaluate and monitor the standard of rugby in the division.
Although no specific player age limit is being introduced the clubs are being asked to focus on selecting squads featuring a high number of players aged under 25.
All the changes proposed following the WRU Principality Premiership Review have been agreed by the Board of Directors of the Welsh Rugby Union at a meeting in the Millennium Stadium today (Thursday April the 24th).
This is the first of three reviews, commissioned last year by Roger Lewis, the WRU Group Chief Executive, to be approved by the WRU Board.
Roger Lewis said: "We now have a positive way forward for the Principality Premiership with a clear and logical plan based on sound rugby reasons.
"We are particularly pleased that the outcomes of this review were agreed by all of the stakeholders. We continue to make good progress on the field and off the field and we continue to move forward with dignity and unity. On behalf of the WRU I sincerely thank everyone who took part in this review and delivered such a win for Welsh rugby."
The WRU Elite Performance Director, Graeme Maw, said: "These changes represent an exciting and important step forward for this crucial division of Welsh rugby.
"This initiative confirms the important place the division has in the elite player pathway going forward. We must have a strong and sustainable Principality Premiership to develop our players along that recognisable and fit-for-purpose talent pathway.
"The changes will help deliver a standard of rugby which will attract the best players and give fans a division they will be proud to support. Players released by the four Regions will also get to play at a level in the Premiership which will ensure they remain at the peak of their form.
"I am very grateful for the huge amount of work the Premiership Review Panel has carried out to ensure we came up with a workable and dynamic formula for success."
The chairman of the Principality Premiership Clubs, Chris Clarke, said: "Through open discussion we have resolved all the issues and reached decisions which have the best interests of rugby at heart.
"There is already some great rugby played in our division and these changes will definitely serve to improve standards even further. All of us involved in the division remain passionate about its value to Welsh rugby as a whole and we are committed to ensuring it flourishes in the future.
"The clubs in the Premiership represent the backbone and the history of the game in Wales and we have a duty of care to ensure it remains powerful going forward."
WRU Head of Rugby Development, Nigel Davies, added: "The talent pathway which leads through to the regions and the national squads cannot afford to miss any player with the potential to succeed.
"The Principality Premiership Division must remain a vital part of that pathway with the right facilities on and off the field to create a robust semi-professional environment."
The Premiership Review Panel findings stated: "The review panel was formed in September 2007 to manage a process of reviewing the effectiveness of the Premiership and how it could be improved. It commissioned a report from the Institute for Vocational Exercise and Sport Training at UWIC and has been considering the findings since February 2008.
"The report identified consensus that the primary purpose of the Premiership is the development of players for the higher tiers of the game in Wales. However, at present the difference in quality of rugby between the Premiership and the Regions is considered greater than desirable and hence the quality of rugby in the Premiership should be improved.
"The Review Panel recognised and endorsed the significance of the Premiership to Welsh Rugby in underpinning the elite game in Wales. The changes are recommended to improve the quality of rugby in the Premiership, to increase its effectiveness of purpose and to enhance the elite player pathway."