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Comments from the WRU Chairman

Comment from the Chairman

I’ve been involved in various Six Nations operations meetings over the past week, where we talk to representatives from each of the Unions to evaluate last season and look into what we may review for the year ahead. These meetings occur each year, with team managers – like our own Martyn Williams – and coaches reporting in with their thoughts and findings with the operational teams at each venue driving the discussions. We discuss travel arrangements, the operational requirements of host broadcasters in each nation, captain’s runs, training programmes and host venues in both the men’s and the women’s game. Commercial requirements and demands are always high on the agenda. Obviously, in the current climate, these meetings have an extra dimension as we are all still unsure about how the season ahead will pan out, but I mention them here because they have given me the feeling that, when the time comes, rugby will be ready, willing and able to return as quickly as safety precautions dictate. A lot of hard work is taking place behind the scenes, as it always does each year at this time, to bring a Six Nations competition that is the envy of the sporting world and, once health and government advice allows, I know it will be a case of now ‘the show must go on’. I am reminded and share the pride of each participating Union, that the Six Nations is very much ours. Yes there is a Six Nations office and committee, which runs and administers the tournament, but the competition is very much the sum of its parts and it takes an equal contribution from each participating union to host the tournament – to put on the show. Our own operations team at Principality Stadium, led by Alex Luff, received glowing reviews from each visiting Union and from a Welsh perspective we have been keen to point out and thank our Six Nations partners for the welcome we have received in each relevant venue. The women’s fixture in Energia Park being a particular case in point for us last season. Much was made of the problem with the shower facilities at this particular venue, but the Wales women’s management were unrelenting in their praise for their Irish hosts, who – far from taking their eye of the ball or being mischievous as some commentators surmised at the time – could not do enough to try to mitigate this unexpected and unavoidable problem. Standards are high throughout the Six Nations competitions, this is credit that is shared six ways but staff at the Welsh Rugby Union have been more than equal to their one sixth contribution and are fully deserving of the plaudits they have received in my recent meetings. Elsewhere this week we have received the news of new investment in the Guinness PRO14 competition and I would like to join my colleagues in Welsh rugby in expressing a warm welcome to CVC to our rugby family. Our future together is one that is rich in potential, the investment received is most welcome but the onus is now on those in receipt to behave responsibly whilst in its possession, proceed with a finely balanced mix of ambition and also caution and, above all, spend wisely and with the future in mind. In short, the investment must be just that – a welcome financial boost which is used to pay dividends to the future of the competition and its teams. Finally, may I welcome an important individual into the Welsh rugby family in Marianne Økland who joined our Professional Rugby Board (PRB) last week as its second independent non-executive director, alongside recently appointed chair Amanda Blanc. Marianne is yet to attend her first meeting but I know she has spoken in person to each of her colleagues on the PRB and in particular those who directly represent the regional game in Wales, namely the chairmen of each of our four regions. She is extremely enthusiastic about the way ahead and comes to us from an impressive background in the finance sector which included spells at banks in both Iceland and Greece which dealt in turn with the crisis of a financial crash in the last two decades, so is a hugely knowledgeable professional who boasts a wealth of invaluable experience at this pivotal time for our game.

Yours in rugby, Gareth Davies WRU chairman

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