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. "
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.