WRU Chairman David Pickering is eagerly awaiting this year's RBS 6 Nations championship.
Six Nations Council chairman David Pickering has hailed the tournament as the most eagerly awaited event in the rugby calendar.
He predicted that this year's competition will boast an added dimension as players compete for places in the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in the summer.
David Pickering, who is also chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, was speaking at the London media launch of the tournament which was attended by captains and coaches of all the competing Nations.
He said:"The sheer excitement of the tournament and the unpredictability of the results of the game have justifiably made the RBS 6 Nations the most eagerly awaited event in the calendar of rugby.
"Perhaps this year for many British players there is the extra opportunity to stake a claim to join Ian McGeechan and Gerald Davies on the Lions tour at the end of the campaign."
He told journalists gathered for the launch at London's Hurlingham Club that the tournament had developed and grown over the past decade.
He explained:"We have, over the last ten years, in a progressive way, developed through the introduction of staggered kick-off times, Sunday games, Super Saturday and this year we will see the introduction of Friday night internationals when Wales take on France in Paris.
"We are confident that when we review this experiment it will again prove to strengthen the appeal of the tournament."
He said TV audiences had grown from an average peak viewing figure of 3.9 million per game in 2003 to six million in 2008 on the BBC alone.
He announced the renewal of TV contracts with the BBC in the UK and with France Television in France. Figures released by the RBS Six Nations Council show that the combined economic impact of the tournament is £393,4 million. The championship annually sustains 2,720 full time and 22,000 part time jobs.
More than 4,500 local rugby clubs, comprised of nearly one million members, have access to the funds provided by the RBS sponsorship through their respective national rugby unions including the WRU.
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