Best wishes to you all on the eve of the 2018/2019 season in Welsh Rugby, we have quite a year ahead in prospect.
The national side begin the build up to RWC 2019 in earnest and I’m sure you’ll join me in also wishing Warren Gatland and his team well, as they kick off preparations for the showpiece tournament in Japan by hosting Scotland in the Under Armour Series at Principality Stadium this autumn.
An array of new and exciting talent was on display when Wales toured Argentina – and faced South Africa in Washington DC – this summer and it will be fascinating to see who emerges from that impressive crop to seal those premium places on the plane which heads to East Asia in just over 12 months’ time.
In the Principality Premiership and Championship promotion and relegation is back, bringing with it a renewed focus on Premiership rugby from our broadcast partners at BBC Wales. The new Celtic Cup competition, which the regions will use to develop young talent, is also intended to release Premiership clubs from the shackles of the development programme allowing them to truly compete for the title of the best club in Wales. It’s a big year for everyone at this level.
Elsewhere, I know it is a tough environment out there for many clubs and we are constantly striving to provide the best means of support we can throughout the community game, to ensure the long term future of our national sport. We are making huge steps forward, we know the women’s and girls’ game is growing with each new season and our new disability rugby strategy is now in place as we look to expand participation in our game in as many areas as possible.
There are great challenges ahead for some, but equally there are success stories at rugby clubs throughout the country with thriving junior sections and many clubs continuing as a hive of activity, providing the beating heart to the communities in which they reside.
Clubs like Caernarfon, which I visited only last week. They boast over 300 children in their diverse junior section and they have got something right – it is our job to decipher what this is, bottle it and share it liberally around and we will continue, undeterred, on this mission.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our Annual General Meeting in October, where I hope you will find yourselves able to support the important governance changes we are proposing, and as I travel around as many of our great clubs as possible during the season ahead.
Yours in rugby,
Gareth Davies WRU chairman
Updated 19:53 - 30 Aug 2018 by Gary Williams