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Welsh Rugby Update 28.05.2020

28/05/2020

WRU president Gerald Davies had paid tribute to everyone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty with their wonderful community spirit as clubs across the land pull together in these difficult times.

As President of the Welsh Rugby Union I wanted to get in touch with you all, if I may, to express my admiration at the way you have all responded to the very difficult time we are all experiencing during this unique and frightening period in our modern history. I hope you are keeping healthy and safe in every way. Let us hope that it will soon be over and we can play again.

Fel Llywydd Undeb Rygbi Cymru fe hoffen anfon gair i chi, ein clybiau, yn ystod yr amser unigryw a diflas sydd heb ei ail yn ein hanes fodern. Gobeithio eich bod yn cadw’n iachus ac yn ddiogel gan obeithio fydd y trafferth a’r gwenwyn drosodd cyn bo hir. Mae ‘na eiriau sydd yn addas ac yn adnabyddus i ni gyd.

There is a refrain that is familiar to us in Welsh rugby. ‘The club is the hub’. This has been a catchword in our rugby for quite a few years and this belief, almost a faith, lies at the heart of the game and gives an idea of what, in essence, rugby means to us in Wales.

A Welsh rugby club is an important focus in all our towns and villages for what is a great competitive sport providing weekly competition. It has also proved to be a focal point for social get-togethers, for celebrations of all sorts and what we must never forget, it is a source where friends, players and non-players alike can have some fun and laughter together. It can give a sense of belonging and provide an identity, a sense of togetherness in all our communities, in our villages, town and cities. And for us as a people, as a nation.

Y mae clybiau rygbi yn ganolbwynt hanfodol bwysig yn ein trefydd,phentrefi a dinasoedd led led Cymru, dim dim ond fel gem gystadleuol bwysig ond hefyd mae’r clwb yn le i gael pobol i ddod at ei gilydd fel cymuned cymdeithasol, i thathlu cyfeillgarwch ac i gael pobol i fwynhau cwmni ei gilydd. Yn wir gymuned.

At no time do I think, that this theme has proved so relevant and so true. This is an extraordinary time, unique in modern times. I know how badly some clubs have been affected, previously by flooding during the winter and now followed by this awful Covid19 virus. It is truly devastating.

You, our rugby clubs, are going through difficult times as the season has come to a halt with all the problems that arise from this, but nonetheless you are, if I may say so, showing terrific patience and resilience, of pulling together, and to go beyond the clubhouse to help each other and those in your communities who are in need of companionship and to help with deliveries of essential supplies and some wonderful fund raising activities.

The club, indeed, is proving to be the hub; of a strong community spirit. We should be proud of our clubs and the wonderful contributions you are all making to our national well-being.

Mae’r clwb a’r aelodau, y chwaraewyr a’r cefnogwyr, teuluoedd a ffrindiau, yn ymestyn at y tu allan ac yn helpu mewn sawl ffordd i esmwyddio a lleihau yr ansicrwydd a’r poen.

There are examples from players, supporters, families and friends who have come together in support of everyone on the front line to help lives who are at risk from the effects of the pandemic as well as to the community at large, to give hope and a heart-felt support to those who are vulnerable and elderly and who are thought to be at risk.

You have conducted activities to raise funds for the NHS, the care workers and all others who are in the front line to combat this terrible illness, which has shown to be fatal in vast numbers.

You have gone beyond the playing fields and embraced the community at large. These are tough times but we must be optimistic and wish that once this is over we shall return to better times, to face the challenges, turn them in our favour with confidence and to leave any disappointments or grievances, if there are any, behind. Perhaps, after the current grim time, to have ­­a revived sense of purpose, to pull together.

There is much to look forward to no more so than among our young people who I know from my grandchildren who yearn for the clubs to be back in action again. Whilst we understand the desire to return to play, to be active and to enjoy each other’s company once more, it must be done in good and correct time.

We need to be patient. This is the position that the Board and Council of the Welsh rugby union stand by. The Welsh Rugby Union is ensuring that you are informed of all the details that are available and to keep you all up to date and to be as supportive as possible during this time.

Y mae’r Undeb yn ymdrechu i fod more agored a thryloyw ac am wneud siwr bob amser eich bod yn derbyn pob gwybodaeth sydd ar gael.

As your President I want to reassure you all that you have my total support and I will do all I can to help all clubs across Wales, to revive and to rebuild. It will be a privilege to do all I can in whatever way is possible.

Can I thank you all most sincerely for your tireless work and dedication as volunteers for the good of Welsh rugby.

Diolch o galon. Cadwch yn iach.

Keep healthy and safe.

Gerald Davies - WRU President

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

If I may, express my admiration at the way you have all responded to the very difficult time we are all experiencing during this unique and frightening period in our modern history...
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