Research by the main title sponsor, The Royal Bank of Scotland has revealed matches at the Millenium Stadium remain massive earners for the local and Welsh economies.
Key Findings include:
* RBS 6 Nations matches bring an estimated £41 million additional expenditure every year to Cardiff and £71 million to the country as a whole.
* Matches which take place every year sustain 340 FTE jobs in Cardiff and 490 in Wales. On an average match weekend in Cardiff it is estimated that some 2,000 temporary staff are employed at the stadium.
* RBS 6 Nations matches are the cornerstone of an annual diary of events at the Millennium Stadium which attracts one million paying visitors, making it the top visitor attraction in Wales and amongst the top ten visitor attractions in the UK.
The updated findings draw on independent research carried out by Tribal Consulting on behalf of RBS in 2008 and existing evidence on attendances, media coverage and travel costs on matches by supporters.
What is even more significant to the hotel and bar owners as well as transport undertakings is that this economic boost of nearly £71 million comes at what is traditionally a quiet time for tourism.
As is the case in all cities hosting games, the main sectors of the Welsh economy to benefit from the RBS 6 Nations were the food and drink and accommodation sectors. RBS estimates that supporters are likely to spend as much as £20 million in Cardiff's bars, restaurants and hotels.
Stephen Boyle, Head of Group Economics at RBS said, "The RBS 6 Nations is a very welcome boost for businesses in each of the six host nations. Over the course of the championship, each of the 15 games helps create and sustain jobs, bringing visitors who spend money at a time of year which is usually very quiet.
"This investment in sport is important not only for developing the game of rugby but it drives real business returns for local economies."
Group Chief Executive of the WRU, Roger Lewis, added, "The RBS 6 Nations tournament is incredibly important to Welsh rugby and the economy of Cardiff and the whole of south east Wales. The matches invariably fill the 74,500 seater stadium, pictures of the event are beamed worldwide and the city of Cardiff is transformed by a spectacular celebration of rugby as more than double the number of people inside the ground arrive to savour the atmosphere in the streets, bars, hotels and shops. Many of the people who come to the matches now traditionally stay the whole weekend to enjoy everything that Cardiff and south east Wales has to offer.
"The RBS 6 Nations tournament is undoubtedly a highlight of the annual sporting calendar in Wales and is enshrined in the culture of our nation."
Evidence of the increasing interest in rugby is clear with the average number of TV viewers having grown by a third since RBS started sponsoring the tournament in 2002 when it averaged just fewer than 5 million a game and no single game exceeded an audience of 10 million viewers.
The average RBS 6 Nations match now attracts almost 8.3 million viewers, although four 2009 matches - Ireland v France, England v France, France v Wales and Wales v England - attracted an average of over 10 million viewers across the combined six territories of Ireland, England, France, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
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