And it is the WRU National Academy youth sides, as well as the international Sevens squads, which provide the key personnel which will safeguard the future of the national game.
Already the academy structure, overseen by WRU head of rugby and performance Joe Lydon, has been seen to work with high profile names like current captain Sam Warburton, wing George North, centre Jamie Roberts and full-back Leigh Halfpenny being integral members of the current national squad.
But a close examination of head coach Warren Gatland's Rugby World Cup squad gives the starkest indication that things are on the right track at the WRU development levels, with more than two thirds (21) of the 30-man squad having represented Wales at U21s, U20s, U18s and/or sevens rugby in the last five years.
Since the 2005/2006 season Craig Mitchell, Ryan Bevington, Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies, Warburton, Andy Powell, Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau, Lloyd Williams, Tavis Knoyle, Rhys Priestland, James Hook, Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, North, Aled Brew and Halfpenny have all come through the system.
Howley says there is no strident policy on selecting youngsters, but he and fellow selectors Gatland, Shaun Edwards, Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins have never been afraid to give youth a chance.
"There is a natural changing of the guard at the moment after the world cup, but we have all been firm believers in giving talented players opportunities whatever their age, throughout our time with Wales," said Howley.
"From giving Jamie Roberts his chance as a centre right at the beginning, to bringing in a young Leigh Halfpenny and picking George North long before he had ever played a Heineken Cup match, we are not afraid to ask the youngsters to make that step up and we have been richly rewarded when we have done so.
"But it is only possible because of the hard work that goes on underneath the senior tier.
"We can't pick them if we don't see them play competitive rugby so each of the Regions need to take credit for putting faith in these young players as well, but the work done at academy and sevens level is vital to us.
"All of the information gathered from all the age grade sides is fed through to the coaches at the senior level and that enables us to create credible succession plans and gives us a clear idea of where we are heading.
"If we need more cover in a certain position we are able to factor that in to our long term planning. But more than that, we know that if a player has come through the academy system they will arrive with a certain set of core skills and experience.
"You are getting a complete rugby player who is used to travel and who is used to competition at elite level.
"On the sevens circuit, for example, they are playing in international arenas all over the world, in serious competition and in a game which hones skills and builds awareness.
"At the different youth levels too we are able to create consistency, but most importantly we are able to gather information to enable us to make informed decisions and give someone like George a first start for Wales before he has set foot in Europe for his region.
"The academy system is certainly working, the whole of Welsh rugby is reaping the rewards and the Regions are vital to the process too.
"The next step, after playing youth rugby, is to get into your Regional side and without them supporting the system we would not be able to pick the players.
"They have to play for their Regions first and without them we wouldn't have developed the players we have, so they must also get a maximum amount of credit."
WRU head of rugby and performance Joe Lydon added:
"These statistics are fantastic and prove that the academy structures and the work done in partnership with the Regions and the Premier clubs is now starting to pay dividends.
"The squad that were so successful in New Zealand boasted over two third's age grade graduates and this is proof of the hard work that goes on within the pathway structures.
"It shows that our over arching philosophy of world leading development programmes in partnership and the importance we collectively hold on placing young players at the centre of our structures and programme is working.
"The stats and present performances at both national and Regional level prove that, given the opportunity, Wales has the young talent to succeed.
"Our captain Sam Warburton is one of Wales' most high profile players and the professionalism with which he carries himself is something which has been bred throughout the age grade system. "Sam has always been a natural born leader, this was recognised at age grade level and he has made the transition to senior rugby seamlessly.
"George North and Scott Williams have also made that transition very recently but excelled quickly, which I believe is testament to the preparation that academy rugby delivers.
"Our focus is to constantly drive to maximise potential and provide the quality opportunities for young Welsh players."
Wales 30-man 2011 RWC Squad, youth and 7s honours since 2005/2006: (those players who represented Wales at youth or sevens levels since 2005 are shown with the teams they represented each season listed after their names)
Props: Paul James, Craig Mitchell (Wales U21), Ryan Bevington (Wales U20, Wales U19), Adam Jones, Gethin Jenkins
Hookers: Huw Bennett, Lloyd Burns, Ken Owens (Wales U19)
Second Row: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales U21), Bradley Davies (Wales U19), Luke Charteris
Back Row: Ryan Jones, Sam Warburton (Wales U20, Wales U19), Andy Powell (Wales 7's), Dan Lydiate (Wales U19- not capped), Toby Faletau (Wales U20)
Scrum-half: Mike Phillips, Lloyd Williams (Wales 7's, Wales U20, Wales U20, Wales U18), Tavis Knoyle (Wales U20, Wales U20)
Fly-half: Rhys Priestland (Wales U19). Stephen Jones, James Hook (Wales U21)
Centres: Jamie Roberts (Wales U21), Jonathan Davies (Wales U20, Wales U19, Wales U19). Scott Williams (Wales U20, Wales U20, Wales U20)
Wings: Shane Williams, George North (Wales U18), Aled Brew (Wales 7's)
Full Back: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales U20, Wales U19), Lee Byrne