In addition to gathering this qualitative research, Lewsey used quantitative data from staff surveys, the WRU audit, club audits, conducted a brand survey, and utilised third party reports from key organisations such as Sport Wales, Repucom, Sport England and bodies from other countries.
Lewsey said: "The main findings of the review were two fold - the need to re-emphasise the WRU's core purpose and to unify the pathway between the elite and community game. We all know there are huge strengths to be found in Welsh rugby being the national sport.
"The game's identity is intrinsically linked to the culture and core values of society with the clubs often forming the heartbeat of our communities. We are also very fortunate to benefit from a workforce that is passionate about its role and an army of volunteers that are truly the backbone of safeguarding the game we all love.
"That emotional connection provides a powerful force that needs to be reinforced at all levels. However, the review also demonstrated a need to focus our energies on some key areas in need of improvement. More specifically, increasing habitual participation, especially within schools and reinforcing the transition into adult club rugby, in addition to combating some of the misconceptions about the game, namely that it can truly be a game for both sexes, all shapes and sizes."
A major strength that came out strongly in the review is that the Welsh Rugby Union and the game itself is closely associated with strong and attractive values and interestingly, it was found that rugby fans display a positive attitude towards the Union's sponsors. That said, Lewsey is focussed on creating a greater alignment between the community and elite games.
He said: "The current player pathway is relatively effective at delivering players for the elite game though in terms of a systematic approach there is always room for improvement. We need to be more effective at providing playing opportunities and ensuring there is a clear pathway back into the community game for those leaving the elite pathway so that we don't lose those players altogether. We also need to become more sympathetic to clubs and schools when planning the seasonal structure and considering the appropriate time to select representative squads."
Lewsey makes it clear that one of his key target areas going forward will be schools and colleges.
"School pupils form one of our most captive audiences in our bid to drive habitual participation, maximise engagement through various formats of the game, improve standards and reinforce the important cultural values of being rounded citizens through interaction both during and after school hours," he said.
"We have found that while rugby is provided in some form at almost every school, this provision is often short term, intermittent and hasn't led to long term engagement. For many reasons, there has been a significant drop in competitive schools rugby in recent years and therefore one of the key outcomes of the review is to support meaningful engagement in rugby in all formats to both sexes at school and college while also incentivising the transfer, co-operation and interface with local clubs.
"The challenges of the educational sector are well known and the demand for league table performances has often led to a decreasing focus on extra-curricular activities. However, reinforcing the message that WRU rugby programmes are there to develop well rounded pupils and support the educational programme has in fact provided many examples where they have been credited with the cultural and academic turn around in a school's fortunes.
"As part of our drive to support schools rugby, Regional Schools Leagues will be now introduced as a viable alternative to the WRU Under 18 Wednesday League for those schools who are more restrained by the academic timetable, and to underpin that League."
Within club rugby the review has highlighted the positive and negative sides of the story in Wales. Rugby participation is proportionally higher than in many other playing countries, and rugby union is still one of the leading team sports in Wales.
There is a very positive picture in terms of meaningful participation at mini and junior level where our development focus has been historically. Indeed, rugby is flourishing at clubs up to Under 14 level. For example, there are more junior players playing club rugby than ever before, there are 53 clubs in Wales who have a junior membership in excess of 200 players and 67 per cent of rugby clubs in Wales have junior sections where there are three or more teams being run and this level of rugby is growing year on year.
Women and girls rugby too is on an upward spiral in terms of the number of players, teams and competitive matches played, though the need for a more specific focus is recognised.
However, the situation beyond that and particularly within youth and senior men's club rugby is a concern. There is a rapid drop off in participation in the late teenage years and second team rugby is struggling.
Josh Lewsey said: "We know from the review that there is a latent demand for more rugby among both adults and children and we need to adapt and cater for that, be it through fifteen a side rugby or alternative forms of the game such as sevens and touch rugby. While there is often a very productive relationship between schools and clubs, we see that channel of communication as vital in sustaining a vibrant and sustainable club scene in Wales and we will work to improve those links.
"There will always be a drop off through the teenage years, but we need to work with our clubs to actively explore how best to retain those playing into adulthood. Following on from that, it is important to note that the review predominantly focuses on playing numbers though the lessons are equally as applicable to the development and support of coaches, officials and volunteers."
Josh Lewsey and his department have now begun working on how best to:
1. Increase meaningful participation in rugby in all formats within secondary schools
2. Improve the transfer of players to clubs
3. Increase the retention of players at clubs
4. Align the performance and development departments to cater for clubs, schools and representative rugby through a more co-ordinated seasonal structure and development pathway
5. Reinforce the cultural messages and values of rugby union
6. Ensure there is a clear pathway for those that leave the elite pathway back into the game
7. Developing a systematic approach to player development and placement to underpin the professional game