8 September 2015
Welsh rugby and Principality Building Society- the perfect pairing
When it comes to rugby sometimes it seems like we can be obsessed with pairings- what’s the best combination in the centre? Who should team together as the all-important halfback duo?
A pairing who have been enjoying success for decades is Principality Building Society and Welsh rugby. The partnership today celebrates its crowning glory with the announcement that the home of Welsh rugby will be known as Principality Stadium from 2016, as part of a wider deal to encourage, grow and develop the sport in communities across Wales.
With the nation gripped with World Cup fever, it’s worth remembering where the road to the Finals began for some of the most important players in Warren Gatland’s squad.
Captain Sam Warburton cut his teeth at the Memorial Ground for Glamorgan Wanderers at the same time that Justin Tipuric was making a name for himself at Aberavon’s Talbot Athletic Ground. Leigh Halfpenny starred for both Cardiff and, briefly, Neath, while Scarlets starlet Liam Williams got his first run-outs for Llanelli. And the name of the competition where it all began for our William Webb Ellis hopefuls? The Principality Premiership.
Wales’ biggest building society has supported the top flight of Welsh domestic rugby since 2005, the deal giving much-needed funds to grassroots clubs up and down the country.
The partnership was the first time the major domestic league in Wales had been sponsored since 1996, coming in the wake of the national team’s success in winning the 2005 Grand Slam and RBS Six Nations Championship, and the significant contributions made by so many of the Welsh players with the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand.
At the time of announcement, then Welsh Rugby Union Chief Executive, Steve Lewis made it clear that “a successful, highly competitive and intense tournament is absolutely vital for the development and health of our game at the top level” calling the Principality Premiership a “30-match tournament that will groom our stars of the future”. It’s fair to say over the next 11 seasons, he’s been proved right.
Going further back, fervent fans of Newport, Pontypridd and Llanelli will have fond memories of their heroes getting their two hands on the Principality Cup – from 2001 to 2003 the building society sponsored the country’s main knockout cup competition.
By the time the Welsh Rugby Union had been formed- after the first official Welsh team faced England at Mr Richardson's Field, Blackheath, on 19th February 1881- Principality had been helping people own their home across Wales for over two decades.
Formed in 1860, the building society is as much a part of the fabric of Wales as the national game itself. With 500,000 Members and customers, roughly the same number of fans that go through the Principality Stadium turnstiles each year, the Society has over 70 branches and agencies on the high street across Wales and the borders.
Rugby clubs are at the heart of these communities and Principality has long supported them. Teams too numerous to mention, including everyone from Denbigh under 15s to Dowlais under 10s, Pentyrch RFC to Penybanc Ladies RFC, all currently benefit from direct assistance from their local branches.
To mark 150 years from its founding on Church Street in Cardiff, the building society celebrated with its Members and customers in the way it knows best- by tying up with Welsh rugby.
The 2010 Wales v South Africa game was known as ‘The Principality Building Society Summer Test’ and provided a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a Principality Member from Ceredigion. Glyn Morgan filled out a form in his local branch and won the chance to present the winning captain with the Prince William Cup. Sadly for Wales that day, the 72 year old handed the trophy to South African John Smit, following a 34-31 win for the Springboks.
Among the 60,527 in the crowd that day would no doubt have been members of the infamous ‘£50 Club’. Back in 1969, the first partnership between the two parties offered Principality customers some of the first WRU debenture seats in its branches for just £50, through Pearl Assurance.
As we look to the future of Welsh rugby at its new home- Principality Stadium- we want to hear from members of ‘The £50 Club’. If you or your family or friends have one of the Principality debentures, we’d love to hear your stories from close to a half century of thrills and spills in the stadium. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, @principalityBS or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/principalitybuildingsociety.