Big changes in Welsh rugby

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Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by LordDowlais on Tue 13 Mar 2018, 4:41 pm

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Taken from WOL:-

Seismic changes to Welsh rugby revealed as Regional U23 teams are born and four teams to be axed from Premiership
A reduced Premiership and new Regional U23 teams are on the way.

Regional U23 teams are set to be introduced into Welsh rugby, along with a reduction in the size of the Principality Premiership.

The development sides are likely to be up and running at the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Dragons from next season.


And the semi-pro Premiership is in line to be cut from 16 to 12 clubs from the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

These radical changes are set to come in following an exhaustive competitions review carried out by the Welsh Rugby Union.

That review process has seen the opinions of all the interested parties being sought and considered and now recommendations are to go before the WRU board later this month.

The fine detail surrounding the U23 teams is still being thrashed out, with more meetings scheduled for this week.

But the basic idea is to provide a level of professional rugby between the PRO14 and the Premiership for talented young regional players.

It may be that some over-age players would be allowed to feature in the teams to ensure sufficient numbers, possibly along with some youngsters from the semi-pro tier.

The plan is for the new regional-run sides to play around 10 games a season, made up of derbies, plus matches against Irish and/or Scottish outfits.

Ireland’s four provinces already operate A teams and they may well be looking for fixtures, with the British & Irish Cup being scrapped next season.

And, in Scotland, the plan is to set up six new semi-pro franchises from 2019 to bridge the gap between the club game and the two professional sides, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

So there is plenty of potential scope for securing opponents for the Welsh Regional U23 sides.

Their 10 projected fixtures are likely to be played in two blocks, one at the start of the campaign and one after the Six Nations, providing some degree of continuity for the teams.

International periods would be avoided because of the heavy demands on the regions player-wise during those times.

When they are not involved with the U23 sides, young players would potentially be available to the Premiership clubs.

The big changes to the Welsh Premiership

That brings us on to the other key structural change.

At present, the Premiership contains 16 clubs, with this being the second of three years where the league is ring-fenced with no promotion or relegation.

But the semi-pro tier looks set to be reduced to 12 sides from the season after next.

It will remain at 16 clubs for next term, with straight home and away fixtures, but four teams will be relegated at the end of the campaign.

One suggestion is there would then be a play-off between the 12th placed club and the winners of the Championship, but that detail is yet to be finalised.


There had been some speculation that the £1.7m WRU funding for the Premiership might be cut or scrapped altogether as part of the changes.

But there’s nothing at present to suggest that will be the case.

It will be interesting to see whether BBC Wales now look to come on board to broadcast Premiership games having lost the rights for the PRO14 from next season.

The much maligned Regional Premiership Select teams which have operated for the last three years are being scrapped , with time having been called on the British & Irish Cup.

Now it's the U23 sides which are seen as the right vehicle for enhancing the development of young players in a professional environment.

Exactly how the teams will be financed remains to be seen, amid ongoing discussions between the regions and the Union over the funding of the pro game in Wales.

It’s understood the full recommendations will go before the WRU board on March 23 and their approval will be required.

However, it does seem that change is in the air.

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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by LordDowlais on Thu 12 Apr 2018, 4:28 pm

PhilBB wrote:As the pro game has accelerated even further away from the community game since 9 years ago, everybody sensible appreciates that it is even more difficult to make the jump today. That's why nobody has done it in 9 years.

Nobody said it is easy, but if it's only one player, then that is proof enough that it can be done.

PhilBB wrote:Plus, of course, entry into the Academies is via the Dewar Shield - so that's for 14/15 year olds and not "by the age of 12".

Ok then, 14/15. It still stops any late bloomers having a chance.

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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by LordDowlais on Thu 12 Apr 2018, 4:31 pm

Hang on, hasn't Jacob Botica recently broken into the Scarlets squad whilst playing his trade at RGC1404 ?

Or was he a Scarlets academy product sent up north ?

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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by PhilBB on Thu 12 Apr 2018, 4:47 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
PhilBB wrote:As the pro game has accelerated even further away from the community game since 9 years ago, everybody sensible appreciates that it is even more difficult to make the jump today. That's why nobody has done it in 9 years.

Nobody said it is easy, but if it's only one player, then that is proof enough that it can be done.

PhilBB wrote:Plus, of course, entry into the Academies is via the Dewar Shield - so that's for 14/15 year olds and not "by the age of 12".

Ok then, 14/15. It still stops any late bloomers having a chance.

One player has proven that it was possible 9 years ago. No players having done it since indicates far more strongly that it is not possible to do it now. Can you at least acknowledge that the information is heavily weighted against you? Can you at least admit that the coaches and players involved in the professional game disagree with you?

Can you at least acknowledge that 1 player at a cost of £12m plus is indication that paying semi pro players from WRU money is a complete waste of resource?
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by PhilBB on Thu 12 Apr 2018, 4:50 pm

LordDowlais wrote:Hang on, hasn't Jacob Botica recently broken into the Scarlets squad whilst playing his trade at RGC1404 ?

Or was he a Scarlets academy product sent up north ?

Jacob Botica is a professional rugby player, Dowellais. Did you not know?
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by LordDowlais on Thu 12 Apr 2018, 5:47 pm

PhilBB wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:Hang on, hasn't Jacob Botica recently broken into the Scarlets squad whilst playing his trade at RGC1404 ?

Or was he a Scarlets academy product sent up north ?

Jacob Botica is a professional rugby player, Dowellais. Did you not know?

Whilst playing for RGC1404 ?

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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by Brendan on Thu 12 Apr 2018, 9:39 pm

The problem with nearly all professional sport is each year maybe 10% of people keep their dream.  Yes it sucks for late developers but if there is a will there is a way if they have the skill.

There are a lot of lower leagues to play in.  The late developer might get picked up by an English championship club if good enough and could go from there back to a pro14 team.  Problem is most people have given up on the dream and are happy to just settle.

On a side note I would love to see the winners of the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Italian club competitions play each other as a semi and final (maybe the final could be on as a curtain raiser for the Pro14 final) to have a club champion.  It would also allow us to keep the link between club and region game.  Great for the players to play in front of 15-20k

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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by PhilBB on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 9:11 am

LordDowlais wrote:
PhilBB wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:Hang on, hasn't Jacob Botica recently broken into the Scarlets squad whilst playing his trade at RGC1404 ?

Or was he a Scarlets academy product sent up north ?

Jacob Botica is a professional rugby player, Dowellais. Did you not know?

Whilst playing for RGC1404 ?

Yes. As he was in France.
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by PhilBB on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 9:13 am

Brendan wrote:The problem with nearly all professional sport is each year maybe 10% of people keep their dream.  Yes it sucks for late developers but if there is a will there is a way if they have the skill.

There are a lot of lower leagues to play in.  The late developer might get picked up by an English championship club if good enough and could go from there back to a pro14 team.  Problem is most people have given up on the dream and are happy to just settle.

On a side note I would love to see the winners of the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Italian club competitions play each other as a semi and final (maybe the final could be on as a curtain raiser for the Pro14 final) to have a club champion.  It would also allow us to keep the link between club and region game.  Great for the players to play in front of 15-20k

The problem is not skill. The problem is physical. You get lots of talented players in the lower leagues but the time it will take them to bulk up to pro rugby, plus the doubt as to whether they can keep their skills as they bulk up, means they don't get a pro job.

Who on earth would turn up to watch Gala vs Merthyr? Certainly not 15,000. Merthyr struggle to get 5% of that for their home games.
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by PhilBB on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 9:15 am

Here's how Jacob treats his sponsored car:

https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/rgc-rugby-player-banned-driving-13771133
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by Stone Motif on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 10:15 am

PhilBB wrote:
Brendan wrote:The problem with nearly all professional sport is each year maybe 10% of people keep their dream.  Yes it sucks for late developers but if there is a will there is a way if they have the skill.

There are a lot of lower leagues to play in.  The late developer might get picked up by an English championship club if good enough and could go from there back to a pro14 team.  Problem is most people have given up on the dream and are happy to just settle.

On a side note I would love to see the winners of the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Italian club competitions play each other as a semi and final (maybe the final could be on as a curtain raiser for the Pro14 final) to have a club champion.  It would also allow us to keep the link between club and region game.  Great for the players to play in front of 15-20k

The problem is not skill. The problem is physical. You get lots of talented players in the lower leagues but the time it will take them to bulk up to pro rugby, plus the doubt as to whether they can keep their skills as they bulk up, means they don't get a pro job.

Who on earth would turn up to watch Gala vs Merthyr? Certainly not 15,000. Merthyr struggle to get 5% of that for their home games.
Exactly this. And not just in terms of the functional bulk they can carry - there will be some who just don't meet minimal strength and speed requirements and whilst you can coach incremental gains, the return on investment is much higher teaching skills ton someone with the requisite athletic ability. No one gets through the NFL combine on the back of good skills alone.
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by Brendan on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 12:43 pm

PhilBB wrote:
Brendan wrote:The problem with nearly all professional sport is each year maybe 10% of people keep their dream.  Yes it sucks for late developers but if there is a will there is a way if they have the skill.

There are a lot of lower leagues to play in.  The late developer might get picked up by an English championship club if good enough and could go from there back to a pro14 team.  Problem is most people have given up on the dream and are happy to just settle.

On a side note I would love to see the winners of the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Italian club competitions play each other as a semi and final (maybe the final could be on as a curtain raiser for the Pro14 final) to have a club champion.  It would also allow us to keep the link between club and region game.  Great for the players to play in front of 15-20k

The problem is not skill. The problem is physical. You get lots of talented players in the lower leagues but the time it will take them to bulk up to pro rugby, plus the doubt as to whether they can keep their skills as they bulk up, means they don't get a pro job.

Who on earth would turn up to watch Gala vs Merthyr? Certainly not 15,000. Merthyr struggle to get 5% of that for their home games.

As a curtain raiser for the Pro14 there would be fans who would watch it and the big game. If the final was Gala v Merthyr and Glasgow v Scarlets would you not get a bigger crowd for both

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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by PhilBB on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 1:53 pm

Brendan wrote:
As a curtain raiser for the Pro14 there would be fans who would watch it and the big game.  If the final was Gala v Merthyr and Glasgow v Scarlets would you not get a bigger crowd for both

I think that Judgement Day proves the market place for consecutive games is small. It would be smaller again for a curtain raiser of amateur players.

Far better to play an age grade game, if the host stadium could handle four changing rooms etc.
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by Brendan on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 2:02 pm

Is there any plan for the regional u23s to play anyone other than the Welsh Premiership teams

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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by The Oracle on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 2:20 pm

Brendan wrote:Is there any plan for the regional u23s to play anyone other than the Welsh Premiership teams


I don't think the plan is for the regional U23 sides to play the Welsh Premiership sides at all! They'll be playing each other and other Pro14 U23 sides, I think.
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by PhilBB on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 2:30 pm

Brendan wrote:Is there any plan for the regional u23s to play anyone other than the Welsh Premiership teams

The u23 teams won't be playing Welsh Premiership sides. They are likely to play Irish A teams, something or other from Scotland and some games against AP A teams.
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

Post by The Oracle on Fri 13 Apr 2018, 2:32 pm

Yep. Someone asked on here or another thread about the replacement for the B&I cup. I suspect that this U23 contest will be it going forward. Maybe a cup at the end of it.
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Re: Big changes in Welsh rugby

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