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Welsh Rugby Union

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Welsh Rugby Union

Welsh Rugby Union
Undeb Rygbi Cymru
Association crest
Sport Rugby union
Founded 1881 (1881)
WR affiliation 1886 (founder)
FIRA-AER affiliation 1999
President Dennis Gethin
Men's coach Warren Gatland
Women's coach Kris de Scossa
Official website

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) (Welsh: Undeb Rygbi Cymru) is the governing body of rugby union in Wales, recognised by the International Rugby Board.[1]

The union's patron is Queen Elizabeth II, and, despite openly being a supporter of the England national rugby union team,[2] her grandson Prince William of Wales became the Vice Royal Patron of the Welsh Rugby Union as of February 2007.[3]


Castle Hotel, Neath, where the WRU was founded.

The roots of the Welsh Rugby Union lay in the creation of the South Wales Football Club in September 1875; formed:

...with the intention of playing matches with the principal clubs in the West of England and the neighbourhood. The rugby rules will be the code adopted.

The South Wales Football Club was superseded in 1878 by the South Wales Football Union in an attempt to bring greater regulation to the sport and to select representatives from club sides to represent the international game. The SWFU though were poorly organised, and although they arranged fixtures between a South Wales team and various English clubs, they were often victims of fixture-clashes and were accused of lacking energy. In 1880, England. The match took place on 19 February 1881, and was won by England seven goals, one dropped goal and six tries to nil. This heavy defeat lay the seeds for further reforms that would lead to the creation of the WRU.[5]

There is confusion regarding the official date of creation of the Welsh Rugby Union. In March 1880 nine teams supposedly met at the Tenby Hotel, Swansea with the intent of creating a new union. These teams are thought to have been, Cardiff RFC, Chepstow RFC, Haverfordwest RFC, Llandaff RFC, Llanelli RFC, Neath RFC, Newport RFC, Pontypridd RFC and Swansea RFC. The issue with accepting this meeting is that there is no written evidence, just oral repetition.[6]

On 12 March 1881, eleven clubs met in the Castle Hotel, Swansea C & FC, Pontypool RFC, Newport RFC, Merthyr RFC, Llanelli RFC, Bangor RFC, Brecon RFC, Cardiff RFC, Lampeter RFC, Llandovery RFC and Llandeilo RFC.[7] Strangely the oldest rugby club in Wales, Neath RFC are not recorded as being present, even though the meeting took place in the town of Neath. It is unknown if this was an oversight by the committee to record the presence of the club, or if Neath RFC actually did not attend. The fact that two of the main committee members of the SWFU, John Llewellyn and Sam Clark were Neath men, and the creation of the WFU disbanded their union, is generally accepted as the reason for the absence of a Neath representative.[8]

The WRU was a founding member of the International Rugby Board in 1886 with Scotland and Ireland, with Mullock and Horace Lyne the Welsh representatives at the formal signing of the union in 1887.

It wasn't until 1934 that the name, the Welsh Rugby Union, was adopted.[9]


Exterior of the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, where the Wales national team play all their home games

The WRU are responsible for the running of Welsh rugby, including 320 member clubs, the Welsh national team and National Leagues and Cups. The Welsh Rugby Union has a major role in the development of coaches, referees and players throughout all ages for both men and women. They also own the home of Welsh rugby union, the 74,500 capacity Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, "an icon of the modern Wales".[10][11]

After the national team the next highest level of representation in Wales is the four regions based around top club sides, but representing a larger area. These regions came into being in 2003 when the WRU elected to reduce the current top tier of Welsh professional rugby union from nine clubs into five regions modelled on the successful Irish provinces and the Super Rugby franchises in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The WRU had hoped to reduce the teams to four regions but Cardiff and Llanelli successfully argued for stand-alone status. After one year the Celtic Warriors region was closed down by David Moffett and WRU Chairman David Pickering leaving Wales with only four regions. The four surviving regional clubs are Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons. They play in the Pro 12, European Rugby Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup competitions. Each region may call up players from a set of club teams within their area. These top club sides play in the 14-strong Welsh Premier Division.

In August 2008 WRU chief Roger Lewis confirmed that the body was looking at a proposal to reinstate a fifth Welsh region, based in North Wales.[12] Lewis admitted that he regretted the decision in 2004 to close down Celtic Warriors.[13] In September 2008 a new North Wales Rugby development team was announced, likely to be based in Wrexham;[14] ultimately, the team was launched as RGC 1404, and was to be based in Colwyn Bay instead of Wrexham. In the same month Llanelli Scarlets changed their name to simply Scarlets, believing the new name would better represent their region beyond Llanelli.[15]




Position no longer exists

Honorary Treasurers

See also

External links

  • Welsh Rugby Union home page
  • Handel C. Rogers WRU President 1975–1976 on Llanelli Community Heritage


  • Smith, David; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of Praise: The Official History of The Welsh Rugby Union. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.  


  1. ^ "Governing Bodies of Sport-Sports Council for Wales". Sport Wales Chwaraeon Cymru website.  
  2. ^ "The prince supporting England at the rugby world cup in 2007". 
  3. ^ "Prince William WRU's vice patron". The BBC. 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2007-10-29. 
  4. ^ Smith (1980), pg 31.
  5. ^ Smith (1980), pg 34–40.
  6. ^ Smith (1980), pg 37.
  7. ^ Smith (1980), pg 41.
  8. ^ Smith (1980), pg 42–43.
  9. ^ Smith (1980), pg 45.
  10. ^ "WRU: History of the Welsh Rugby Union: A Brief History". Welsh Rugby Union website. Welsh Rugby Union. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  11. ^ "WRU:Structure of the Welsh Rugby Union:Board of Millennium Stadium plc". Welsh Rugby Union website. Welsh Rugby Union. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  12. ^ "WRU considers north Wales region". BBC News. 2008-08-15. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "WRU plan for northern development team". The Independent (London). 2008-09-09. 
  15. ^ "Scarlets drop Llanelli from name". BBC News. 2008-09-11. 
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