Welsh rugby has notched up yet another victory on the European scene with the appointment this week of Labour Euro MP, Derek Vaughan, as Chair of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Rugby Union.
The group, established last year, is made up of MEPs and is dedicated to supporting and promoting the sport both in the member states of the EU and in developing countries.
Welsh Labour MEP, DEREK VAUGHAN, said:
"Rugby plays a central role in community life in Wales. In towns and villages, the length and breadth of the country, rugby clubs provide an important opportunity for people to come together and show pride in the areas where they live and socialise.
I am honoured to be able to champion the cause of rugby union in the EU and look forward to helping to develop the game, not only in countries, such as Wales where it is strong, but also in member states where that is not necessarily the case.”
A keen sportsman himself, earning five Welsh Schoolboys football caps as a youngster, the Merthyr born MEP added that one of his priorities was to support the game at grassroots level.
"Whilst it is vital that the national side performs well in international tournaments and the regions are successful in the Heineken Cup, it is essential to recognise the volunteers who are the lifeblood of the youth and amateur game.
I have been on many a wet and windy touchline myself as a proud parent and so many people put in long hours, almost always at their own expense, to give children the chance to learn and improve their rugby skills. As Chair of the Intergroup, I will be looking at ways that we can help local teams and clubs across Europe to develop and flourish.
Many members of the Intergroup represent areas where rugby union is not a mainstream sport. We will be using the talents and knowledge of those from more established rugby nations to foster the game elsewhere.
The Lisbon Treaty gave the EU competence to legislate in the area of sport. The Intergroup will also provide a platform for Rugby Union to have a stronger voice amongst parliamentarians."