The union's patron is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and, despite openly being a supporter of the English Rugby team, her grandson Prince William of Wales became the Vice Royal Patron of the Welsh Rugby Union as of February 2007.
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The South Wales Football Club was superseded in 1878 by the South Wales Football Union in an attempt to bring greater regulation to the sport and to select representatives from club sides to represent the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 organised an international match against England in 1880. The match took place on the 19th February 1881, and was won by England 7 goals, 1 dropped goal and 6 tries to nil. This heavy defeat lay the seeds for further reforms that would lead to the creation of the WRU.
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.
On the 12th March 1881, eleven clubs met in the Castle Hotel, Neath to form what would be accepted as a Welsh rugby union. The founding clubs of the WFU (Welsh Football Union), as it was originally known, were Swansea C & FC, Pontypool RFC, Newport RFC, Merthyr RFC, Llanelli RFC, Bangor RFC, Brecon RFC, Cardiff RFC, Lampeter RFC, Llandovery RFC and Llandeilo RFC. 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 did not actually attend.
It wasn't until 1934 that the name, the Welsh Rugby Union, was adopted.
The WRU are responsible for the running of Welsh rugby, including 293 member clubs, the Welsh national team and National Leagues and Cups. They also own the Millennium Stadium the home of Welsh rugby union.
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 14 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 folded leaving Wales with only four regions. The four surviving regional clubs are Cardiff Blues, Llanelli Scarlets, Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons. They play in the Celtic League, European Rugby Cup and European Rugby Shield 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. Lewis admitted that he regretted the descision in 2004 to close down Celtic Warriors. In September 2008 a new North Wales Rugby development team was announced, likely to be based in Wrexham. The Welsh Rugby Union has a major role in the development of coaches, referees and players throughout all ages for both men and women.
Rugby Union: DOWN AND OUT; ... AND NO WONDER WITH THE NINNIES IN BLAZERS IN CHARGE OF OUR WELSH RUGBY UNION CIRCUS
Mar 09, 2007; Byline: ian PARRI SO it's three down, two to go, with the latest thrilling episode in the tale of Welsh rugby's continuing...