Grand Slam champions return home to regions

International players and Head Coaches from Wales' four rugby regions the Ospreys, Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, and Newport Gwent Dragons were reunited at a joint event yesterday to mark the commitment made by the regions, clubs and community game in Wales to the Grand Slam success.

Nineteen of Wales' Grand Slam heroes were proudly back in their regional colours with players looking forward to an enthralling final stage of the rugby season after their Six Nations triumph.

With four big Welsh derbies ahead in the calendar to excite home crowds, plus the battle for a top four league play-off places still raging and the Blues and Scarlets still in contention in European rugby honours - there's plenty on action on the regional rugby stage.

Wales team mates are soon to become league derby rivals as rugby supporters look forward to four big games in the season with:

* Blues V Scarlets (March 24th), Cardiff City Stadium
* Blues v Ospreys (April 14th), Cardiff City Stadium
* Ospreys v Dragons (April 20th), Liberty Stadium
* Scarlets v Blues (May 5th), Parc y Scarlets

The event, organised by Regional Rugby Wales, the umbrella organisation representing the four regions and was hosted in the capital by the Cardiff Blues at Cardiff City Stadium ahead of the first big Welsh derby between the Scarlets and Blues this Saturday evening (kick off 1830).

Head of Regional Rugby Wales, Stuart Gallacher says the impact of Wales' rising home-grown stars in the Six Nations sends out a significant message to the world about the success of development of Welsh rugby talent.

Speaking at the press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Gallacher said:

"We are delighted to welcome our regional players back and congratulate them and the WRU on a huge achievement and one that has made the nation and whole of Welsh rugby proud.

"This success is one built over time and with the investment and dedication of many people from all corners of the game in Wales, from volunteers in youth rugby and many unsung heroes at grassroots to premiership clubs and the regions who are all united in their commitment to help supporting the top end of the game and the national squad.

"Now we look to take that excitement and momentum back to the home regions with some great derby fixtures to excite ahead of us and it was great to see the support that the Christmas round of Welsh derbies achieved with four of our games with crowds well over 10,000.

"Since rugby went regional, Wales has won three Grand Slams in seven years and we continue to support the national team with the development of a number of our inspiring young regional players stepping up to the international stage.

"We all feel pride in our shared success as a rugby nation, it's felt across the spectrum from the junior clubs and schools where our players started off to the youth and senior sides that contributed to their progression, the Premiership sides that committed to develop them through competitive rugby to the regional coaching groups and businesses that turned them into professional athletes; and the National Coaching group that provided them with the opportunity to shine on the international stage."

Since regional rugby started in 2003/4 the following has been achieved by the four regions:

* 7 Quarter-finals in Europe
* 2 Semi-finals in Europe
* 13 top four placements in Celtic League with three championship titles
* Two championship titles in Anglo-Welsh and two runners-up places

Welsh Rugby Success rate in the Six Nations has gone from 30% in 2000-2003 to 60% from 2004 - 2012.