The Welsh Rugby Union met Welsh MPs at Westminster today and outlined how a multi-million pound package of new money was central to a new Rugby Services Agreement now being negotiated with the four regions.
WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis explained that negotiations on the new agreement commenced on 6th January, and remain on-going, and informed them that the union will continue to work in partnership with the regions until a full agreement is reached in the best interests of Welsh rugby.
The MPs were told how the WRU had secured the new money through pledges from amongst existing stakeholders.
Outlining the build-up to the current negotiations the MPs were told how existing ERC and Rabodirect competitions were challenged after BT Sport signed a contract last year with English Premiership clubs for a new European tournament.
Later last year the Welsh Regions declared they wanted to join the English clubs and announced they planned to quit the Heineken Cup.
That impasse has formed a backdrop to the discussions about an on-going contract between the Regions and the WRU to replace the Participation Agreement the Regions opted out of last December.
That PA had secured the regions £9m a year in competition money plus £6.6m a year directly from the WRU.
The MPs were told how those payments were secured as the turnover of the WRU had risen since 2006 from £46.1m to £61m.
The increase in turnover has helped reinvestment in Welsh rugby by the WRU, including a rise of 102 per cent into the regional game.
Distributions into the Premiership Division in Wales were up 50 per cent and up 48 per cent into grassroots rugby.
Before the 2009 PA the WRU distributed £3.2m a year into its regions which rose on signing to £6m. It now stands at £6.6m and would have reached £7.6m at the full term of the PA in 2019.
Those figures will rise significantly under the terms of the new Rugby Services Agreement.
The MPs were reminded that grassroots rugby remained a priority and key focus for the WRU.
Last year more than 8,000 rugby matches were organised across the whole of Welsh rugby. Some 46 full time WRU rugby development and rugby participation officers backed by admin staff now focus on community rugby.
More than 2,000 new juniors play the game while 6,500 youngsters aged from 12 to 16 have been to player development events.
The WRU has also safeguarded the regional academies by investing £600k a year.
Roger Lewis said: "We had an extremely positive meeting with the Welsh MPs and were grateful for their invitation to share our views.
"We emphasised that we are working within the constitution of the WRU in the best interests of Welsh rugby at all times.
"Our declared aim is to go forward working together with our four existing regions and we will remain focused on that objective. "
Principality Stadium will host the UEFA Champions League Final in six weeks' time. WRU chairman Gareth Davies, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford and Ambassador Ian Rush joined young sports fans at the trophy arrival at the venue to celebrate the magnitude of the event on Saturday 3rd June (kick-off 19.45).
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is looking forward to bringing together players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales for the biggest challenge of their careers - a series against world champions, New Zealand.
For the fifth year running, Wales referee Nigel Owens will be in charge of proceedings at Judgement Day V at Principality Stadium. It promises to be 'extra special' for the Wales' favourite ref, as he will be making his 150th appearance in the league.
There will be no shortage of inside knowledge from Bowl Finalists Caerphilly and Amman United when they face each other on Sunday at National Finals Day. Caerphilly hooker Rhys Cleverly knows the Principality Stadium pitch better than most as a matchday groundsman, while Amman United can look to Wales' record try scorer Shane Williams for some helpful advice.
Two hundred and 40 teams competed in the inaugural Urdd WRU 7s held at Pencoed last week with Welsh internationals Steff Andrews and Jasmine Joyce impressed with the talent on display, as was Urdd chief executive, Sioned Hughes.
The countdown is on for Judgement Day V as tickets for the big day at Principality Stadium soar through the 50,000 mark. Players and coaches alike are bursting at the seams to play in the double header with Dragons coach Kingsley Jones claiming there is a 'real buzz' about the event.
WRU TV went behind the scenes when the four regions got together to test their skill set for the BBC's Scrum V Live rugby show, at the WRU National Centre of Excellene in the build up to Judgement Day V. Blues' Matthew Morgan was one of the stars of the show while the Dragons' Cory Hill proved a surprise package...the full set of results will be revealed on tv screens on matchday
Wales assistant coach Richie Pugh is confident his side can cause a few headaches in the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend. In a tough group, Wales kick off their campaign against New Zealand on Friday before playing Japan and Fiji, who are chasing their third consecutive Hong Kong title, on Saturday.
Bedwas had to overcome a stubborn Carmarthen Quins side before winning the Foster's Challenge Cup final in Bridgend with a 23-18 victory. Bedwas captain Nicky Griffiths pays tribute to his side who have claimed the club's first piece of silverware in the modern era.
Team coach Brett Davey is aiming to keep his unbeaten run in cup finals at Principality Stadium intact when his side take on Amman United in the WRU Bowl final, after he guided Caerphilly to a 20-14 win against Cilfynydd in the semi-finals.
Penallta are hoping to go one step further than last season when falling to Bedlinog in the WRU Plate Final. After a titanic struggle against Nant Conwy, they have given themselves a great chance, after a hard fought 18-13 semi-final victory.