Regional Rugby Wales (RRW) has hailed the Six Nations squad announced on Tuesday as proof of regional rugby’s success in helping to produce a winning national team.
The body, which represents the four professional regional rugby teams in Wales (Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets), has congratulated the regional players who have made the squad and wished them well as they go to camp on Monday.
Of the 32-strong Wales squad for the 2014 RBS 6 Nations, 25 are currently playing for the four regions, with the remaining seven players having also come through the regional system but now playing outside of Wales. Together they have all been nurtured by the four regions and have made a collective total of 2,497 appearances for the regions.
Stuart Gallacher, Chief Executive of Regional Rugby Wales said:
“There is no denying the impact regional rugby is having on the national game. We’d like to congratulate all our international players on their selection for the Six Nations squad and wish them all well as they join up next week for the forthcoming campaign. Whether you’re an experienced senior international or a new player emerging onto the international stage, it's a huge honour to play for your country at any time and real motivation to perform well particularly in the Six Nations, which has such great tradition and rivalry.
“Thousands of loyal regional rugby supporters from the communities that our international players represent will proudly support their players in their forthcoming contests. We all wish Wales the very best in achieving a record third competition win and look forward to seeing some of the regions’ up and coming internationals make their mark.
“As Regions we are also equally proud of the investment and commitment that continues to be made in supporting our players during their regional careers; to ensure we provide the very best platforms, opportunities and rugby environments throughout the season that allow our players to achieve their full potential and the success they deserve.”
Pre-regional rugby Wales had won just one European title (1994) since the 1970s. Since the introduction of the regions, Wales has boasted four Six Nations titles, (three Grand Slams) since 2003, a World Cup semi-final in 2011 and Welsh players made up two thirds of the series winning 2013 Lions Test team. On top of that, the Wales Under-20s reached the Junior World Championship finals last year for the very first time.
Stuart Gallacher continued:
“Regional Rugby Wales is fighting for a healthy and sustainable game in Wales. The foundations of Welsh rugby need to be strong from the grassroots up - players such as those announced for this year’s Six Nations are very important to our rugby communities. But equally, those communities are very important to those players who respect their roots and care passionately about the home clubs where they were nurtured. They know, as a regional player, they have juniors who look up to them as heroes and want to see them in their home region every week. They inspire and spark a lifelong passion for the future of the game in Wales – that is what regional rugby is all about.”
Current regional rugby players in the Wales Squad 2014 RBS 6 Nations:
Samson Lee – 41 Scarlets appearances, 3 Wales, Felinfoel, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy, Llanelli RFC
Rhodri Jones – 70 Scarlets appearances 5 points, 5 Wales, Machynlleth, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy, Llandovery RFC and Llanelli RFC
Ken Owens – 152 Scarlets appearances 35 points, 19 Wales, Carmarthen Athletic, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy, Llanelli RFC
Emyr Phillips – 88 Scarlets appearances 10 points, 3 Wales, Llandovery RFC, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy
Aaron Shingler – 83 Scarlets appearances 45 points, 7 Wales, Hendy RFC, Development contract through Llanelli RFC
Rhodri Williams – 39 Scarlets appearances 20 points, 2 Wales, Ammanford, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy, Llandovery RFC
Rhys Priestland – 126 Scarlets appearances 884 points, 25 Wales, Llandeilo RFC, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy, Llanelli RFC
Jonathan Davies – 111 Scarlets appearances 185 points, 37 Wales, 3 B&I, Whitland RFC, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy, Llanelli RFC
Scott Williams – 69 Scarlets appearances 47 points, 23 Wales, Newcastle Emlyn RFC, Scarlets Age-Grade, Scarlets Academy, Llanelli RFC
Liam Williams – 64 Scarlets appearances 76 points, 8 Wales, Waunarlwydd RFC Development contract through Llanelli RFC
Ryan Bevington - 94 Ospreys appearances, 12 Wales, Porthcawl RFC through Ospreys age-grade and Premiership rugby
Dan Biggar - 139 Ospreys appearances 1436 points (club record), 20 Wales, Gorseinon RFC through Ospreys age-grade and Swansea RFC
Ian Evans - 126 Ospreys appearances, 32 Wales, Abercwmboi RFC through Ospreys academy and Neath RFC
Richard Hibbard - 174 Ospreys appearances, 26 Wales, 3 Lions caps, Taibach RFC through to Swansea RFC
Adam Jones - 188 Ospreys appearances, 89 Wales, 5 Lions caps, Abercrave through to Neath RFC pre regional rugby
Alun Wyn Jones - 158 Ospreys appearances, 74 Wales, 6 Lions caps, Bonymaen RFC, Ospreys academy and Swansea RFC
Ryan Jones - 142 Ospreys appearances, 75 Wales, 3 Lions caps, Bridgend RFC and Celtic Warriors, into Ospreys in 2004
Justin Tipuric - 77 Ospreys appearances, 19 Wales, 1 Lions cap, Trebanos RFC, Ospreys age-grade, Aberavon RFC
Rhys Webb - 98 Ospreys appearances, 3 Wales, Bridgend Athletic, Ospreys age-grade, Aberavon RFC and Bridgend RFC
Andrew Coombs – 60 Dragons appearances, 6 Wales, Newport RFC.
Toby Faletau – 70 Dragons appearances, 29 Wales, 1 Lions cap, came up through regional premiership side Ebbw Vale and also played for Dragons Academy.
Gethin Jenkins – 132 Blues appearances, 101 Wales, Pontypridd RFC, Toulon
Sam Warburton – 67 Blues appearances, 41 Wales, through age grade ranks at Blues from age grade to Academy to senior side, Glamorgan Wanderes RFC
Leigh Halfpenny – 86 Blues appearances, 48 Wales, Neath RFC, came through age grade system in Wales to senior side.
Alex Cuthbert – 43 Blues appearances, 19 Wales, Cardiff RFC, joined Blues Academy from studies in Wales.