WRU urges new major event strategy for Wales

The Group Chief Executive of the WRU has called on the Welsh Assembly Government to create a centrally managed sport and event strategy to benefit the whole of Wales.

Giving evidence to a Welsh Assembly Government inquiry into the impact of major sporting events, Roger Lewis, said the strategy should be properly funded and staffed.

He said the strategy should, “think big and be comfortable with risk” in order to get the best out of all opportunities.

Roger Lewis said there are already some examples of how cooperation between the WRU and the Welsh Assembly Government has achieved positive results which have benefitted Wales.

He told the committee hearing at the Senedd today (Thursday March 4th): ”We should be doing more of this joined up thinking.

“Many of our rugby, community, healthy lifestyle and environmental projects are aligned to Welsh government initiatives.

“We now work closely with the WAG to align our strategies and initiatives. We need that work to be pushed forward into a clearly aligned strategy.”

He pointed out the WRU was not seeking and did not require any financial bailout but could develop future major event planning through alignment.

In a series of conclusions put before the committee he explained:

  • The WRU is a serious and professional organisation that delivers significant outputs for the public good.
  • The WRU would welcome a significant sport and event strategy which would benefit all of Wales.
  • That strategy needs to be properly funded and properly staffed with people who are experienced in major event management.
  • It has to have focus and it needs to be centrally managed
  • It has to be comfortable with risk and it needs to be creative and to be able to think big.
  • The Millennium Stadium is an iconic venue recognised throughout the world which creates value to all of Wales through its hosting of epic sporting and musical events.
  • The economic benefit to Wales delivered by the Welsh Rugby Union through its management of the Millennium Stadium is in excess of £100million a year.
  • The Welsh Rugby Union has not asked for any financial bailout from government and does not intend to do so. As a business we are winning for Wales and we are confident we will continue to do so.
  • The WRU wants to work in partnership with like minded people so long as our strategies are aligned and it makes sound financial sense.

More than one million ticket holding visitors a year visit the Millennium Stadium making it the largest visitor attraction in Wales and one of the top 10 in the UK.

An independent economic impact survey commissioned by the WRU and published in 2007 reported that events at the stadium generate £100 million a year into the economy of Cardiff and south east Wales.

Mr Lewis added: ”If the definition of culture is a kind of glue which holds communities together, which enables people to dream and aspire, and takes them out of the humdrum of our daily lives and has the power to change peoples perceptions of themselves and the surrounding world for the greater good then look no further than the Millennium Stadium as Wales most important, dynamic, financially sustainable and vital cultural centre in the whole of our nation.”

The WAG Communities and Culture Committee Inquiry is hearing evidence from a number of organisations and governing bodies based in Wales before reporting its findings.

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