NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell has paid tribute to Stuart Gallacher after the Regional Rugby Wales chief executive announced his retirement from rugby, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 68-year-old dual-code international has been an influential figure in Welsh professional rugby for the last two decades.

Gallacher was chief executive of the Scarlets, director of ERC and the Celtic League and most recently head of RRW, the body that represents the four Welsh regions.

Hazell said: "Stuart has had a big presence in Welsh rugby as well as further afield representing the Welsh game across the European landscape.

"On behalf of all here at Newport Gwent Dragons we would like to thank Stuart for his huge contribution to the Welsh game, especially in bridging the gap between the amateur and professional game."

Gallacher had recently taken a back seat with current Scarlets boss Mark Davies taking over as interim chief executive. He will continue to carry out that role until a successor is appointed.

"It was never going to be an easy for me to finally step away from being involved in the game particularly after the challenges of the past few years – it's been my life," said Gallacher, who was capped against France in 1970 and represented Wales four times in rugby league.

"But it's time now for a very capable and united group in the Welsh regions to take things forward and I am pleased we can look forward positively to a new and improved European competition.

"Our Welsh regions continue to play a vital role in the future success of Welsh rugby.

"Their place in our game should be respected and celebrated within a partnership that works and takes our whole game forward in Wales.

"The regions have passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable rugby people supporting and working for them."