In response to the comments made by the First Minister Mr Rhodri Morgan today, the Chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union Mr Glanmor Griffiths has issued the following statement.
"The Welsh Rugby Union has noted the comments made by the First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, and endorsed by the Culture and Sports Minister, Jenny Randerson, regarding their views on the state of our national game.
The first thing to point out is that these concerns have never been formally raised with the WRU before today's rather extraordinary statement, even though the First Minister has been a regular visitor to the Millennium Stadium to watch international matches.
Having now made them public, and offered the opportunity for any interested parties to meet with him and the Culture and Sports Minister for further discussion, I would very much welcome the opportunity to sit down and examine what the National Assembly is prepared to do to help the rugby cause in Wales.
Despite numerous attempts to encourage the First Minster and the Culture and Sports Minister to help us to remedy the financial short falls in the public sector funding received by the Millennium Stadium, we have not made any headway. This has been a huge disappointment to us and is a matter we would wish to discuss further, especially given the sudden interest both Mr Morgan and Ms Randerson are showing in our national game.
To date we have had no help from the National Assembly in trying to convince the Millennium Commission that the Millennium Stadium project should receive the Â£4m shortfall in funding it experienced. The Assembly has been instrumental in ensuring the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay will Â£80m in public funding for their arts project as compared with the Â£46m of Millennium funding we received for our sporting scheme.
Nor have we been given any answers as to why the Millennium Stadium should pay more than Â£1.1m per year in business rates while the proposed Millennium Centre is scheduled to be zero rated - just another example of how the Culture and Sports Ministry treats sport as a second class citizen in Wales.
On a visit to London recently the Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, and the Culture Minister, Kim Howells, gave us a sympathetic hearing regarding future funding for the Millennium Stadium. After all, Â£120m was made available to build a new Wembley. Only today, it was announced that this project will now cost Â£710m as opposed to the Â£140m it cost to build Wales' greatest landmark and marketing asset, the Millennium Stadium.
We would be delighted to sit down and have a proper conversation with the First Minister and the Culture and Sports Minister about our national game. We would also like to know when they will be able to resolve the Â£4m shortfall the Millennium Stadium suffered in building the river walkway for the city of Cardiff.
We would value a meeting with Mr Morgan and Ms Randerson and look forward to hearing from them what the National Assembly is prepared to do to help enhance our national sport".
The on and off-field benefits of schools and colleges employing a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub initiative continue to grow with the publication of the first half term figures of the current academic year.
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The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia