The decision not to give free TV broadcasting of the Six Nations rugby tournament protected status could hit Welsh pubs and clubs, fears James Evans.

The Brecon and Radnorshire MS said at the Senedd it was “very disappointing” that the UK Government had not added the Six Nations to the “free-to-air” category for premier sporting events.

He said: “As a proud rugby player myself, it's important that we have rugby on the telly to encourage future generations of players to don their boots, don the shirt and get out there on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.”

Mr Evans said he has concerns over the impact the decision could have on pubs and clubs.

He said that if the Six Nations moves to pay-per-view channels, pubs could, on average, pay around £20,000 a year for BT and Sky Sports subscriptions.

Mr Evans asked Deputy Sport Minister, Dawn Bowden, what analysis the Welsh Government has done of the impact this could have on pubs and clubs.

He said: “A lot of people frequent them to watch these matches. If people cannot watch them, this is yet another nail in the coffin of the hospitality sector in Wales.”

Ms Bowden said she thought Mr Evans was "absolutely right" on this issue.

The Minister said that many people like to gather in pubs and sports clubs to cheer on the national team, and if that isn't available to them it is "clearly going to impact" those businesses that would otherwise air the games.

"All of that adds to the case for why we should be pressing for the Six Nations and other major international sporting events to be held free-to-air," she said.

"But I don't think we should underestimate the difficulty that this also presents to the nations themselves, and to the Six Nations and to other international sporting events."

The Minister continued: "When Nigel Walker, for instance, was the interim chief executive officer of the WRU, he gave evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee inquiry last year, and he noted the importance of broadcasting revenues to sport, and stated that that accounted for something like 40 per cent of their income. He recognised that there was this tension between tournaments being free-to-air to audiences and the revenue that it then generated for the governing bodies of those sports. That's probably quite a difficult circle to square, but nevertheless, I think, first and foremost, the focus should be on the fans that support our sports.

"I very much hope that that review of listed events can be supported by this Parliament and we can make the case in a much stronger way to the UK Government."