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The Welsh Regions and the URC

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Post by LordDowlais Thu 14 Apr 2022, 12:28 pm

I was reading the latest article on WOL the other day titled How to save Welsh rugby - The uncomfortable truth facing our game and the difficult solutions that need to be explored. There was the usual nonsense spouted, and the demonising of the semi pro game getting too many votes and the what not, but it did get me thinking, especially the bit about reducing the waste and fixing the pathways. Here is the link if any of you are interested:-

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/how-save-welsh-rugby-uncomfortable-23671119

What started me thinking was how the regions could live within their means and still be competitive, and to be honest, they cannot. Then I started thinking about the league since it's inception and the regions involvement, has it really been a success ?

Trophy wise you could argue a point, but then I started thinking a little more. Leinster and Ulster aside, the Welsh regions average about the same attendances as the rest, but on derby day the Welsh regions get full houses. So the question I wanted to ask, is the league a good thing for Welsh rugby ?

Wales is a small place, and the teams rely on ALL the fans, both home and away. Would playing in a Welsh league do more for Welsh rugby than the league they are in now ? The teams would get bigger crowds I would wager. It is far easier to travel from Newport to Llanelli than it is from any Welsh region to Glasgow or Dublin. Would we get a lot more "full" stadiums if it were Welsh teams playing Welsh teams every week ? At the moment, the regions just rely on their own fans turning up, and none of the regions have a massive city like Dublin, or a whole country like Ulster to back them up.

I know a Welsh league would struggle to get the TV money the URC can generate, but would the extra fans at the ground make up for it ? I don't know, I'm no expert in these things, all I can say is what I bare witness to, and the URC is not very popular here in Wales, even after the best part 20 odd years, it's been messed around with too much, and people do not know what they are following anymore, changes of structure, changes of tv companies ect.....

I would like to see a 8/10 team Welsh league, with the best players from "each region" playing in a 4 team end of season regional league, where the top two go into the the top tier Euro comp, and the bottom two go into the lower Euro comp. Yes the regions still compete in Europe, but the players also represent their clubs in the league, rekindle the old rivalries, which still have the embers burning by the way.

Also, I would like to see a shake-up of the coaches in Wales, there are far too many jobs for the boys, people getting highly paid at the regions to do jobs that most people volunteer to do in the leagues below. Even though most of the article is just personal opinion, there is a lot to surmise from reading it.

Also, can we please debate the article and the subject, and not me. Very Happy

What are the thoughts of other fans on this subject ?

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Post by Guest Thu 14 Apr 2022, 2:07 pm

An 8-10 team Welsh league would create worse teams than now, logic would suggest, and would provide even more ‘jobs for the boys’ coaching roles. Would these teams even be pro??? If so who would pay for all of these wages? If the standard is semi-pro in order to be affordable…..what is the point? We’ve got that already with the Welsh prem.

I don’t think there are any easy solutions. ANY solution (and I’ve read loads of suggestions) has drawbacks and will lead to claims of fans not being ‘represented’. So I think we just have to bite the bullet and go for a nuclear option that will inevitably alienate/disenfranchise/p*ss off some fans for the greater good (I.e the health of Welsh pro rugby).

The things I DON’T think will work for Welsh Rugby:

. A Welsh league of 8-10 teams. Been there before and there was too much ‘filler’ getting paid pro wages when they were not good enough to be playing pro rugby. If we water down our teams the surely we’ll be even worse against European opposition?
. An even divide of our nation into North, South, East and West regions. Just look at our geography, population densities and topography to give an idea of why this is doomed to fail. Then consider who would pay for the stadia for these sides, who would buy out the current businesses, etc. Same for an East and West 2 team model.
. Going down to 2 teams like Scotland and Italy. While this is tempting in the short term I just don’t think we’ve seen enough evidence of success at either club or international level in those nations to warrant going down that road here.
. Joining an English league. In terms of rivalry and travelling fans, yes this makes sense (for us). But there is nothing in it for the English so I can’t see it being an option that will ever happen so probably better to put our energies into pursuing something else.

My preference:

Now, just like every other proposal this one is riddled with flaws and issues but no plan is ever perfect. Remember, this is just my suggestion. I would like to see 4 pro club sides being entered into Pro16 and Europe on licence. I actually don’t care who at this point but they just have to have the strongest business cases and tick all the boxes for backing, stadia, growth potential, etc. I want it to be an open and transparent application process with those missing out being given clear feedback about why and what they need to do to get a better chance the next time. Maybe a 4 or 5 year licence and then if any of the pro teams are struggling then they are kicked out and the next best option gets a shot. So let’s for argument sake say that Newport, Cardiff, Llanelli and Swansea get the pro licenses. They would then not feature in the semi-pro Welsh prem that sits at a level below the pro league. Obviously this has lots of issues as you now have new businesses such as Ospreys, and you can’t just close them down and transfer their assets to Swansea. So I’m not sure how we approach that. We’d also need to consider the player pathways because for me we do need some sort of ‘regional’ approach to schools and community rugby in terms of the areas of Wales and how it is split. But that would come from the community game, which I agree with many others should be split completely from the pro game in Wales. My feeling is that the pro teams with licences will have a better chance of marketing themselves as clubs than as made up entities; I would like to see a few more spaces for foreign players; and of course I’d like to see a situation where these pro teams have budgets that are comparable with each other (like all Scarlets level). Not sure how we achieve that or whether the WRU should provide more funding to them? But I disagree with a lot of the talk about the WRU bankrolling the current regions. My understanding is that they are much less involved financially than the unions in other nations. So in that respect maybe they should be doing more to underpin the pro game here in Wales.

On another note, and perhaps for a different thread, I think it is clear that the WRU needs a good overhaul as it seems so old fashioned, antiquated, out of touch, full of blazers and jobs for the boys. It doesn’t seem like a progressive, professional organisation fit for running pro sport in the modern era. It’s still too entrenched in the amateur era, and as a union we have ALL of the clubs right down to grassroots having votes and a say in what happens at the pro level. That doesn’t seem right and is something I’d like to see addressed with a split and separation of the pro game and the community game.

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Post by RiscaGame Thu 14 Apr 2022, 5:00 pm

100% there should be a split in the pro and community game. The fact that so many people have a say in it, is a bit mad. The fact that we lost a good rugby brain in Gareth Davies over the man who got voted in, speaks volumes. There are too many on the gravy train in Welsh rugby, as I know all too well as one prominent member of it is at my club.

It was interesting to note a prominent Ospreys board member (I think) state that he believed that all pro teams should be equally funded. Obviously we've had a disparity for a while, with teams being rewarded for success and producing players etc. My problem with the difference in funding is that producing players is pretty subjective, especially if it is related to international selection.

I am a bit of a fan of the mooted changes for the Premiership, of what I believe to be two teams from each "region" plus RGC. If the Premiership is used properly, then it could be a better tool. It has been used quite effectively by Dragons this season, as evidenced by players like Will Reed and other academy prospects like Ben Moa being made available for Newport and Ebbw Vale. I do get the opinion offered that prospects might not learn much playing against semi pro players, but there's currently no other option available and I'd rather the likes of Reed be playing regularly.

Rather than pumping money into vanity projects like a hotel etc, the WRU could be investing that money on state of the art academy centres. During the pandemic, it spoke volumes how Leinster opened a new academy and we had Cardiff and Dragons training on council facilities. That shouldn't be happening (I know Cardiff's was only a temporary measure).

I don't think we will ever reduce teams, nor change them. But the relationship has to change. If there is an appropriate board for the professional game, then the teams can be held to account properly. The WRU's incompetence is more than evident by their running of the Dragons, where for some absurd reason they have renewed Dean Ryan's contract. It is also evident by how we see Byron Hayward getting another decent job, when if anything he should've gone back to building his reputation in the club game. It's insanity that playing budgets aren't decided yet, especially after the supposed fuss last season (Dragons having to panic buy their props/losing Harris etc).

Anyway, I could probably go on longer, but it's time to shut down my laptop. I wanted to chuck some thoughts out though, as there probably is a good discussion to be had here. One final point, is it is good to see WOL start to write articles questioning things, but I also think they and other outlets like Scrum V could do a lot more. Articles like this are only scratching the surface a little, but it's good to read articles like this, rather than lists etc.

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Post by Brendan Thu 14 Apr 2022, 6:51 pm

The first problem with an 8-10 team league is like has been seen with the Premership in Wales and all the changes is how do you decide who the 8/10 teams are.  The same clubs who voted in the current WRU set up will vote for a big number of teams maybe 12 or 14.
Second is you either end up with the Japan model of about 2-4 players in each team being on big bucks (compared to the rest) while the rest earn a little more than 50k.  These star players would look amazing but would be ill prepared for international or European Rugby. Or you essential do the Prem and just add in the wages of the fringe regional players.
Finally you have the financial viability of of each team.  Not sure how current Premership teams are going to be able to double or triple their wage budget (if it's to work).  Not sure any of the none 4 Regions can get attendances higher than now to support the financial burden

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Post by Brendan Thu 14 Apr 2022, 6:59 pm

The Regions issue in the URC/Pro12 has always been phyiscallity.  When they can be bullied up front they fall apart.  When they can compete up front they do well.  Adding in 4 phyisical teams has just laid the point bare and fixing that makes a big difference.

Wales have an issue with the player they a bringing through.  They have great ball stealers but maybe not the players to give them a platform.  They either do the Italian thing and over overhaul how the youngsters develop or the Scottish one of importing in areas that you are poor.

The Scots seem to have figured out what works for them. I don't think Wales have

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Thu 14 Apr 2022, 9:10 pm

LordDowlais wrote:I was reading the latest article on WOL the other day titled How to save Welsh rugby - The uncomfortable truth facing our game and the difficult solutions that need to be explored. There was the usual nonsense spouted, and the demonising of the semi pro game getting too many votes and the what not, but it did get me thinking, especially the bit about reducing the waste and fixing the pathways. Here is the link if any of you are interested:-

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/how-save-welsh-rugby-uncomfortable-23671119

What started me thinking was how the regions could live within their means and still be competitive, and to be honest, they cannot. Then I started thinking about the league since it's inception and the regions involvement, has it really been a success ?

Trophy wise you could argue a point, but then I started thinking a little more. Leinster and Ulster aside, the Welsh regions average about the same attendances as the rest, but on derby day the Welsh regions get full houses. So the question I wanted to ask, is the league a good thing for Welsh rugby ?

Wales is a small place, and the teams rely on ALL the fans, both home and away. Would playing in a Welsh league do more for Welsh rugby than the league they are in now ? The teams would get bigger crowds I would wager. It is far easier to travel from Newport to Llanelli than it is from any Welsh region to Glasgow or Dublin. Would we get a lot more "full" stadiums if it were Welsh teams playing Welsh teams every week ? At the moment, the regions just rely on their own fans turning up, and none of the regions have a massive city like Dublin, or a whole country like Ulster to back them up.

I know a Welsh league would struggle to get the TV money the URC can generate, but would the extra fans at the ground make up for it ? I don't know, I'm no expert in these things, all I can say is what I bare witness to, and the URC is not very popular here in Wales, even after the best part 20 odd years, it's been messed around with too much, and people do not know what they are following anymore, changes of structure, changes of tv companies ect.....

I would like to see a 8/10 team Welsh league, with the best players from "each region" playing in a 4 team end of season regional league, where the top two go into the the top tier Euro comp, and the bottom two go into the lower Euro comp. Yes the regions still compete in Europe, but the players also represent their clubs in the league, rekindle the old rivalries, which still have the embers burning by the way.

Also, I would like to see a shake-up of the coaches in Wales, there are far too many jobs for the boys, people getting highly paid at the regions to do jobs that most people volunteer to do in the leagues below. Even though most of the article is just personal opinion, there is a lot to surmise from reading it.

Also, can we please debate the article and the subject, and not me. Very Happy

What are the thoughts of other fans on this subject ?
I'm sorry what? Shocked

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cur38HKh4TI

In what world is this considered a full house? I mean there is an entire stand behind the goal with nobody in it... There a numerous other examples like this I could get up, but this is just the latest one. It's not a dig btw as even the provinces have not been getting full houses for derby days

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Post by Recwatcher16 Thu 14 Apr 2022, 9:34 pm

As a neutral observer of welsh rugby, the fact that there is ongoing debate after twenty plus years suggests a lot of unsatisfied fans.
Surely if you radically change something from the previous hundred years which created a vibrant sport, it has to be for the better. What have the Regions achieved ? - are they the reason for a period of relative success for the national side by competing against irish and scots teams? Possibly.

This constant comparison that a welsh league couldn't compete with English or French leagues is pointless and the wrong question. The question should be who is a welsh league for with the answer clearly being fans. That however doesn't happen overnight with the requisite numbers and subsequent economics and the last couple of decades have been lost.
If fans want subsequent competition against French, English and Irish etc. then yes use a tiered selection system and have allocated nominated teams to euro competitions. When welsh teams rather than Regional teams were getting thumped in Europe, the top tier of welsh rugby got dumped - prematurely in my view.

If you have a top down structure, you have to achieve success and silverware, if you don't then don't be surprised if the grass roots wither through lack of investment because the top tier are not generating interest and subsequent revenue - just ask Australia.

The clear loss of love for the Regions is no doubt tied to a lack of success but it is not the only reason and Wales will always produce rugby talent.
The irony will be that welsh loss of parochial rivalries and the subsequent heartaches caused has only really benefited the IRFU Provinces, who thirty years ago were playing in front a couple of hundred people.

Having said all that, the WRU now has very little room for manoeuvre and has to hope that the national side continues to have periodic success to fund the game through TV money from French and English audiences. Irish dominance of a cross border league with no salary cap is going to continue with added pressure from elite SA sides. I am not hopeful for Welsh rugby.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 9:28 am

Recwatcher16 wrote:

The clear loss of love for the Regions is no doubt tied to a lack of success.

A reminder that the Welsh regions have won 9 major trophies since Ulster won their last, (which was 16 years ago).

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 10:09 am

True although if you translate overall records into a table the outcome would be very different.
Ulster have been the permanent bridesmaids.

The worry for Wales is no champions in 5 years and no prospect in the near future.

I don’t see how a Welsh league of 8 or 10 teams will help.
It may well be more popular but it dissipates the talent and even the best of them will not be competitive on the European stage.

Also the league would generate a lot less income from sponsors

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 10:14 am

Same conversation as always........ The only solution to assist the current 4, is going into the English system. But that isn't on the cards. So we go back to underfunded mess and the competition that is killing them - the Unsellable Rugby Circus.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 10:26 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY5MRJTNN_8

Could go back to these crowds, bursting at the seams.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 10:43 am

I reckon the English could accept the Welsh if all teams went into the 2nd Tier in the first season.

That would be a bitter pill to swallow but the English hold all the cards.

In addition the URC doesn’t need the Welsh anymore.
A 12 team league of the remaining (or Cheetahs replacing Zebre) would actually be more competitive.

Welsh club rugby really is between a rock and a hard place

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 10:45 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY5MRJTNN_8

Could go back to these crowds, bursting at the seams.

The crowds would not be as biG but I do agree they would probably be bigger than many regional matches.
Trouble is money needs to go into the game from outside sponsors.
Gate receipts are nowhere near enough.

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Post by Guest Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:06 am

The crowds pre-regional rugby were smaller than they have been since the formation of the regions for a lot of the teams.  All this talk of the past being better - look at the match reports from around 1998-2002 and you'll see gates of around 1000-2000 at a lot of places such as Bridgend, Pontypridd, Ebbw Vale, etc.  It's a lot of misty eyed romanticism that mis-remembers the bumper crowds, or cherry picking of special games that were well attended.  But generally the crowds were lower.


Last edited by The Oracle on Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:09 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:09 am

geoff999rugby wrote:I reckon the English could accept the Welsh if all teams went into the 2nd Tier in the first season.


I think many in Wales would be happy with that. Even if there was no promotion for the first 5 years. People just want to go to some away games over the border. The Scarlets haven't played a game in England for 17 months. Mind you, the Ospreys have barely played a home game this calendar year such is the nature of the awful URC.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:13 am

Would they be able to survive with the massive amount of lost revenue; doubtful. Their best players would be picked off by teams in the top tiers. And would the English clubs who had to be relegated to make space vote it through. Never going to happen.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:15 am

The Oracle wrote:The crowds pre-regional rugby were smaller than they have been since the formation of the regions for a lot of the teams.  All this talk of the past being better - look at the match reports from around 1998-2002 and you'll see gates of around 1000-2000 at a lot of places such as Bridgend, Pontypridd, Ebbw Vale, etc.  It's a lot of misty eyed romanticism that mis-remembers the bumper crowds, or cherry picking of special games that were well attended.  But generally the crowds were lower.

It's like looking back and thinking it was all free flowing rugby (across the board). It really wasn't! There are views from a lot of people on how to grow the game but personally I think Brian Moore is the most correct in his view. The untapped potential which could be huge is women's rugby.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:16 am

Nothing to do with the URC

It is down to avoiding International weekends and accommodating European rugby.

If you take those dates out there have not been many weekends free.
Ospreys have played 2 URC games and 1 European game at home in 2022.

There could have been more if games were arranged during the International window but to many that devalues the fixtures.
You can’t have it both ways

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:22 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:Would they be able to survive with the massive amount of lost revenue; doubtful. Their best players would be picked off by teams in the top tiers.

Don't really care about that to be honest. It's not like the Welsh 4 are competing for URC or European titles. Personally I'd forgo a large quality in squad and some of our best players if we played in a meaningful league, with regular home games, attendable away games against teams that have history.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:24 am

geoff999rugby wrote:Nothing to do with the URC

It is down to avoiding International weekends and accommodating European rugby.

If you take those dates out there have not been many weekends free.
Ospreys have played 2 URC games and 1 European game at home in 2022.

There could have been more if games were arranged during the International window but to many that devalues the fixtures.
You can’t have it both ways

So if it's nothing to do with the URC, then the English club teams have played similar amounts of home games yes?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:34 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Would they be able to survive with the massive amount of lost revenue; doubtful. Their best players would be picked off by teams in the top tiers.  

Don't really care about that to be honest. It's not like the Welsh 4 are competing for URC or European titles. Personally I'd forgo a large quality in squad and some of our best players if we played in a meaningful league, with regular home games, attendable away games against teams that have history.

Yeah I get that some Welsh fans would want to rivalries with new teams but that doesn't translate to other teams. In general I find when you're watching rubbish you get fewer fans too despite it being benefit to come and visit sunny Doncaster!

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:43 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:Nothing to do with the URC

It is down to avoiding International weekends and accommodating European rugby.

If you take those dates out there have not been many weekends free.
Ospreys have played 2 URC games and 1 European game at home in 2022.

There could have been more if games were arranged during the International window but to many that devalues the fixtures.
You can’t have it both ways

So if it's nothing to do with the URC, then the English club teams have played similar amounts of home games yes?

The English play 24 games a year in their league, the URC play 18.
The English have to play during the International windows, the URC do not.
I am sure you will recall many a fan decrying the games played during the International windows with weakened teams.
As I said you can’t have it both ways

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 11:51 am

geoff999rugby wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:Nothing to do with the URC

It is down to avoiding International weekends and accommodating European rugby.

If you take those dates out there have not been many weekends free.
Ospreys have played 2 URC games and 1 European game at home in 2022.

There could have been more if games were arranged during the International window but to many that devalues the fixtures.
You can’t have it both ways

So if it's nothing to do with the URC, then the English club teams have played similar amounts of home games yes?

The English play 24 games a year in their league, the URC play 18.
The English have to play during the International windows, the URC do not.
I am sure you will recall many a fan decrying the games played during the International windows with weakened teams.
As I said you can’t have it both ways

"Nothing to do with the URC" was your quote. You've just proved yourself wrong.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:10 pm

So you want games during International window?

If so please explain a structure that works for you?

It is easy to be critical, it’s harder to come up with a proposal that works for all.


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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:14 pm

My problem is that a large number of Welsh fans complain about the multi national league, the way the regions are structure.

However we are short of explanations of what Wales do want.
The only thing we hear is we want to join the English.
Trouble is the English don’t want Wales.

So what, that is realistically, achieve do Welsh fans Want?
I think opening this thread was at least an attempt to debate this point.
Hopefully it will continue to focus on that core question

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:27 pm

Over a season though you're going to get roughly the same home and away. Ospreys have had 3 home games vs 5 away since the turn of the year, Donny knights have had 5 at home 4 away, no real difference and obviously (22 games scheduled in total for each I believe). If it's more games you want you aren't going to get it by joining the Championship.

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Post by Hazel Sapling Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:33 pm

Feels like this is descending into the ills of the URC. Certainly there is scope for some changes to the format though some were enforced by the Omicron scare late last year wrecking the SA tours.

New Zealand is a rugby mad nation of c.5.1m and a GDP of c.US$210bn (2019) that is supporting six Super Rugby sides and has had some financial pressures. Wales is a country of c.3.1m and a GDP of c.US$100Bn. Four top tier professional sides for Wales is reasonable, 8-10 would be a massive drop in talent and financial strength as Oracle has hit on.

As a Scotland fan, we need a genuine third side to build our international talent pool. We have relied heavily on the diaspora (with some prop imports) that Wales don't have. So dropping to two sides does not work.

What I think may help (some of it may already be happening as I am not an expert):

- Wales should move the regions into WRU control. The stadium is paid off, there should be extra money on the table and it forces responsibility to remain with the main body.

- Each region should have similar funding and it should be made public the financial support each region receives year to year for the top level AND the immediate level below.

- Greater integration between regional sides and the underlying level (say two-three clubs nominated per region) including players made available if fit and not selected. Particularly relevant for academy. Tie players at start of season with equal numbers (i.e., squad of 42 has 14 assigned to each of three nominated sides). Could do it via a draft so that clubs have some say and can't moan about who they were assigned.

- Remove Central Contracts. Follow on, reduce focus on the top tier players like Faletau, L Williams, Moriarty, Francis to bring to Wales. Top players are draining resources as the Welsh stars have hit their 30's.

- Weaken or remove 60 cap rule. Carre would probably be a better player staying at Sarries than he has become at Cardiff for example. I am not sure Lloyd, Sheedy or Rees-Zammit will improve by returning to Wales having finished developing in England.

- Look to URC schedule to stop overlap between game times and club matches to allow rugby regulars the chance to watch the regional side after the game for example (e.g., have Neath games at 2pm and an Ospreys game at 5pm). Commercially there needs to be a focus to making the regional sides a highlight of the weekend. More needs to be done about having home games consistently through year or at least having an "event" every other weekend to stop dead months for season ticket holders.

- Woman sides should target entering the English league (as should Ireland and Scotland for a B&I league). Too late for men's sides.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:43 pm

Hazel Sapling wrote:Feels like this is descending into the ills of the URC. Certainly there is scope for some changes to the format though some were enforced by the Omicron scare late last year wrecking the SA tours.

New Zealand is a rugby mad nation of c.5.1m and a GDP of c.US$210bn (2019) that is supporting six Super Rugby sides and has had some financial pressures. Wales is a country of c.3.1m and a GDP of c.US$100Bn. Four top tier professional sides for Wales is reasonable, 8-10 would be a massive drop in talent and financial strength as Oracle has hit on.

As a Scotland fan, we need a genuine third side to build our international talent pool. We have relied heavily on the diaspora (with some prop imports) that Wales don't have. So dropping to two sides does not work.

What I think may help (some of it may already be happening as I am not an expert):

- Wales should move the regions into WRU control. The stadium is paid off, there should be extra money on the table and it forces responsibility to remain with the main body.

- Each region should have similar funding and it should be made public the financial support each region receives year to year for the top level AND the immediate level below.

- Greater integration between regional sides and the underlying level (say two-three clubs nominated per region) including players made available if fit and not selected. Particularly relevant for academy. Tie players at start of season with equal numbers (i.e., squad of 42 has 14 assigned to each of three nominated sides). Could do it via a draft so that clubs have some say and can't moan about who they were assigned.

- Remove Central Contracts. Follow on, reduce focus on the top tier players like Faletau, L Williams, Moriarty, Francis to bring to Wales. Top players are draining resources as the Welsh stars have hit their 30's.

- Weaken or remove 60 cap rule. Carre would probably be a better player staying at Sarries than he has become at Cardiff for example. I am not sure Lloyd, Sheedy or Rees-Zammit will improve by returning to Wales having finished developing in England.

- Look to URC schedule to stop overlap between game times and club matches to allow rugby regulars the chance to watch the regional side after the game for example (e.g., have Neath games at 2pm and an Ospreys game at 5pm). Commercially there needs to be a focus to making the regional sides a highlight of the weekend. More needs to be done about having home games consistently through year or at least having an "event" every other weekend to stop dead months for season ticket holders.

- Woman sides should target entering the English league (as should Ireland and Scotland for a B&I league). Too late for men's sides.

Jesus! That's hilarious. There is so much wrong with your post it's untrue. The stadium debt is not paid off. Mentioning the GDP of a country is just bizarre.

The WRU didn't even pay the regions their release money last year. The expected payments of £26m went down to £3m. And you reckon the WRU has or wants to control 4 teams? Look how badly it is currently running 1 of them!!

Where is all the money going to come from? They need to find approximately another £15m - £20m per annum if they want to run all 4 regions.

The WRU is now in debt of £114m !

https://www.thenational.wales/sport/19599843.wru-debt-increases-114m-pandemic-hits-revenue/

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:47 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
So what, that is realistically, achieve do Welsh fans Want?

I keep telling you. The only solution is to join the English structure. But it's not a solution currently, as the English don't need the Welsh or anybody else. So there will be no change and the 4 welsh pro teams will continue to barely survive in a league that very few people in Wales know or care about.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:48 pm

Why would the Welsh prefer to play Jersey over Leinster though?

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Post by Guest Tue 19 Apr 2022, 1:19 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:My problem is that a large number of Welsh fans complain about the multi national league, the way the regions are structure.

However we are short of explanations of what Wales do want.
The only thing we hear is we want to join the English.
Trouble is the English don’t want Wales.

So what, that is realistically, achieve do Welsh fans Want?
I think opening this thread was at least an attempt to debate this point.
Hopefully it will continue to focus on that core question

Geoff, it is clear you dislike the Welsh. Just read back over your comments on this post and the URC division 2 thread. But to say that the above is ‘all we hear’ suggests you are just picking the posts that confirm your own views of the Welsh. I have suggested my own preference above and it is nothing to do with joining the English. LDs original post was nothing to do with joining the English. The only other person here suggesting an alternative is RugbyFan. So 66% of suggestions on this thread have not included joining the English while only 33% do! Hardly ‘the only thing we hear’!

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Post by Hazel Sapling Tue 19 Apr 2022, 1:56 pm

RugbyFan100 wrote:
Hazel Sapling wrote:Feels like this is descending into the ills of the URC. Certainly there is scope for some changes to the format though some were enforced by the Omicron scare late last year wrecking the SA tours.

New Zealand is a rugby mad nation of c.5.1m and a GDP of c.US$210bn (2019) that is supporting six Super Rugby sides and has had some financial pressures. Wales is a country of c.3.1m and a GDP of c.US$100Bn. Four top tier professional sides for Wales is reasonable, 8-10 would be a massive drop in talent and financial strength as Oracle has hit on.

As a Scotland fan, we need a genuine third side to build our international talent pool. We have relied heavily on the diaspora (with some prop imports) that Wales don't have. So dropping to two sides does not work.

What I think may help (some of it may already be happening as I am not an expert):

- Wales should move the regions into WRU control. The stadium is paid off, there should be extra money on the table and it forces responsibility to remain with the main body.

- Each region should have similar funding and it should be made public the financial support each region receives year to year for the top level AND the immediate level below.

- Greater integration between regional sides and the underlying level (say two-three clubs nominated per region) including players made available if fit and not selected. Particularly relevant for academy. Tie players at start of season with equal numbers (i.e., squad of 42 has 14 assigned to each of three nominated sides). Could do it via a draft so that clubs have some say and can't moan about who they were assigned.

- Remove Central Contracts. Follow on, reduce focus on the top tier players like Faletau, L Williams, Moriarty, Francis to bring to Wales. Top players are draining resources as the Welsh stars have hit their 30's.

- Weaken or remove 60 cap rule. Carre would probably be a better player staying at Sarries than he has become at Cardiff for example. I am not sure Lloyd, Sheedy or Rees-Zammit will improve by returning to Wales having finished developing in England.

- Look to URC schedule to stop overlap between game times and club matches to allow rugby regulars the chance to watch the regional side after the game for example (e.g., have Neath games at 2pm and an Ospreys game at 5pm). Commercially there needs to be a focus to making the regional sides a highlight of the weekend. More needs to be done about having home games consistently through year or at least having an "event" every other weekend to stop dead months for season ticket holders.

- Woman sides should target entering the English league (as should Ireland and Scotland for a B&I league). Too late for men's sides.

Jesus! That's hilarious. There is so much wrong with your post it's untrue. The stadium debt is not paid off. Mentioning the GDP of a country is just bizarre.

The WRU didn't even pay the regions their release money last year. The expected payments of £26m went down to £3m. And you reckon the WRU has or wants to control 4 teams? Look how badly it is currently running 1 of them!!

Where is all the money going to come from? They need to find approximately another £15m - £20m per annum if they want to run all 4 regions.

The WRU is now in debt of £114m !

https://www.thenational.wales/sport/19599843.wru-debt-increases-114m-pandemic-hits-revenue/

GDP and population is kind of key to the whole economic potential to what might be available for sponsorship and tickets. Rugby is the primary sport in Wales, NZ and Fiji yet they all have different abilities to support teams. The point being made is that New Zealand is about twice the size of Wales and is just about supporting six teams so the idea of supporting 8-10 teams is not viable hence not suggesting it. I could try and delve into statistics on Welsh businesses vs what is available elsewhere (Ireland, New Zealand) but thought GDP was a reasonable proxy. I am happy if you wish to suggest by what proxy you wish to measure the economic potential of Wales to support top tier rugby sides.

In terms of what is wrong with my post, I googled the above pop/GDP stats so going to say that is right. You said that "there is much wrong with your post its untrue" then quoted about the WRU debt that I was unaware of, which fine, I did not know as I did not read the annual report. Freely admit to being wrong about that assumption. At the same time, I will double down on the WRU needing to have ultimate responsibility for the success of the regions (as in Ireland and NZ) and that means ownership. What else did I suggest that is "so wrong"?

Please run through in detail and message me privately as I don't want to fill up this message board for what is meant to be discussing what changes Welsh rugby could make. Most of my suggestions may be useless or already exist but, as I said in my original post, I am not an expert and I tried to be constructive.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 2:15 pm

Hazel Sapling wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
Hazel Sapling wrote:Feels like this is descending into the ills of the URC. Certainly there is scope for some changes to the format though some were enforced by the Omicron scare late last year wrecking the SA tours.

New Zealand is a rugby mad nation of c.5.1m and a GDP of c.US$210bn (2019) that is supporting six Super Rugby sides and has had some financial pressures. Wales is a country of c.3.1m and a GDP of c.US$100Bn. Four top tier professional sides for Wales is reasonable, 8-10 would be a massive drop in talent and financial strength as Oracle has hit on.

As a Scotland fan, we need a genuine third side to build our international talent pool. We have relied heavily on the diaspora (with some prop imports) that Wales don't have. So dropping to two sides does not work.

What I think may help (some of it may already be happening as I am not an expert):

- Wales should move the regions into WRU control. The stadium is paid off, there should be extra money on the table and it forces responsibility to remain with the main body.

- Each region should have similar funding and it should be made public the financial support each region receives year to year for the top level AND the immediate level below.

- Greater integration between regional sides and the underlying level (say two-three clubs nominated per region) including players made available if fit and not selected. Particularly relevant for academy. Tie players at start of season with equal numbers (i.e., squad of 42 has 14 assigned to each of three nominated sides). Could do it via a draft so that clubs have some say and can't moan about who they were assigned.

- Remove Central Contracts. Follow on, reduce focus on the top tier players like Faletau, L Williams, Moriarty, Francis to bring to Wales. Top players are draining resources as the Welsh stars have hit their 30's.

- Weaken or remove 60 cap rule. Carre would probably be a better player staying at Sarries than he has become at Cardiff for example. I am not sure Lloyd, Sheedy or Rees-Zammit will improve by returning to Wales having finished developing in England.

- Look to URC schedule to stop overlap between game times and club matches to allow rugby regulars the chance to watch the regional side after the game for example (e.g., have Neath games at 2pm and an Ospreys game at 5pm). Commercially there needs to be a focus to making the regional sides a highlight of the weekend. More needs to be done about having home games consistently through year or at least having an "event" every other weekend to stop dead months for season ticket holders.

- Woman sides should target entering the English league (as should Ireland and Scotland for a B&I league). Too late for men's sides.

Jesus! That's hilarious. There is so much wrong with your post it's untrue. The stadium debt is not paid off. Mentioning the GDP of a country is just bizarre.

The WRU didn't even pay the regions their release money last year. The expected payments of £26m went down to £3m. And you reckon the WRU has or wants to control 4 teams? Look how badly it is currently running 1 of them!!

Where is all the money going to come from? They need to find approximately another £15m - £20m per annum if they want to run all 4 regions.

The WRU is now in debt of £114m !

https://www.thenational.wales/sport/19599843.wru-debt-increases-114m-pandemic-hits-revenue/

I am happy if you wish to suggest by what proxy you wish to measure the economic potential of Wales to support top tier rugby sides.

It sure has no relation to GDP. The best metric is how much money there is available from revenues and rich people in Wales. I can't see why on earth you would link GDP to rugby revenue. I mean most of NZs finances are paid by the Lions Tour as it generates so much money for the NZRFU - what has that got to do with GDP of NZ?.

In terms of what is wrong with my post, I googled the above pop/GDP stats so going to say that is right. You said that "there is much wrong with your post its untrue" then quoted about the WRU debt that I was unaware of, which fine, I did not know as I did not read the annual report. Freely admit to being wrong about that assumption. At the same time, I will double down on the WRU needing to have ultimate responsibility for the success of the regions (as in Ireland and NZ) and that means ownership. What else did I suggest that is "so wrong"?

Please run through in detail and message me privately as I don't want to fill up this message board for what is meant to be discussing what changes Welsh rugby could make. Most of my suggestions may be useless or already exist but, as I said in my original post, I am not an expert and I tried to be constructive.

*Remove central contracts - those players will go to england and france again
*remove the 60 cap rule - those players will go to england and france and both regions and wales would be weaker.
*Each region should have similar funding - this means there is no incentive whether a region produces 1 wales test player or 15, so would fill up their teams with overseas players that have not been capped. Which weakens wales.
*There are also already 2 or 3 clubs integrated with each region,

I could go on but this is basic stuff that shouldn't really have to be spouted.


Last edited by RugbyFan100 on Tue 19 Apr 2022, 2:17 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Guest Tue 19 Apr 2022, 2:15 pm

I'll pick up on one of your points, Hazel.  WRU ownership of the regions.  I just can't see how on earth they'd manage that.  The WRU couldn't even help the regions during the pandemic so I just can't see how they would be able to buy up 4 separate businesses plus all of their assets (e.g. stadia) and debts and then run them year on year.  Taking on all of the salaries of around 160 players would be huge. They can't afford all of that surely?  

They actually already own Dragons, or part of it, but are actively seeking to return it to private ownership which suggests to me that actually retaining it and then buying 3 more on top is not on their agenda.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:18 pm

I do not dislike the Welsh but I am struggling to understand what solution they are seeking given that there is zero indication the English would let them into their existing premiership structure.

To me I see three maybes:
- A Welsh only league
- Joining the English second tier, if the English agree
- Make a success of of the URC

If none of them is acceptable, please explain what the alternatives are?
Club rugby in the Celtic nations would be better for good quality Welsh teams.
I just see any solution being put forward that is going to make that happen

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:25 pm

The Oracle wrote:


Geoff, it is clear you dislike the Welsh. Just read back over your comments on this post and the URC division 2 thread.

What comment would that be then?
The only one I can think of is that Welsh teams suffer the consequences of the National team playing a game outside the International windows.
That observation would apply to any nation doing the same thing, it just so happens Wales are the team that do so on a regular basis.

As posted above if joining the English Premiership is not going to happen what are the alternatives?

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:26 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:I do not dislike the Welsh but I am struggling to understand what solution they are seeking given that there is zero indication the English would let them into their existing premiership structure.

To me I see three maybes:
- A Welsh only league
- Joining the English second tier, if the English agree
- Make a success of of the URC

If none of them is acceptable, please explain what the alternatives are?
Club rugby in the Celtic nations would be better for good quality Welsh teams.
I just see any solution being put forward that is going to make that happen

- A Welsh only league - Only 4 pro teams. Only 4 pro squads. Financial suicide. Undoable
- Joining the English second tier, if the English agree - yes
- Make a success of of the URC - killing the 4 welsh pro teams. Few people interested in it.

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Post by Guest Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:27 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:I do not dislike the Welsh but I am struggling to understand what solution they are seeking given that there is zero indication the English would let them into their existing premiership structure.

To me I see three maybes:
- A Welsh only league
- Joining the English second tier, if the English agree
- Make a success of of the URC

If none of them is acceptable, please explain what the alternatives are?
Club rugby in the Celtic nations would be better for good quality Welsh teams.
I just see any solution being put forward that is going to make that happen

My suggestion is one of those. LDs (OP) suggestion is one of those. Not everyone is calling for us to join the English. Now the people calling for us to join the English? RugbyFan1000 and PhillBB are all that I can think of on here. Possibly a few more. Hardly ‘the Welsh’



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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:29 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
The Oracle wrote:


Geoff, it is clear you dislike the Welsh. Just read back over your comments on this post and the URC division 2 thread.

What comment would that be then?
The only one I can think of is that Welsh teams suffer the consequences of the National team playing a game outside the International windows.
That observation would apply to any nation doing the same thing, it just so happens Wales are the team that do so on a regular basis.

As posted above if joining the English Premiership is not going to happen what are the alternatives?

The WRU make that 4th test non-negotiable. They say any £££ received for the regions from the test game means we play 4 tests in Autumn. They make the 4 welsh teams sign it, so it's a little harsh to say the 4 welsh teams should suffer the consequences when it's not even them that insists that is the correct revenue stream to go with.

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Post by Guest Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:31 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
The Oracle wrote:


Geoff, it is clear you dislike the Welsh. Just read back over your comments on this post and the URC division 2 thread.

What comment would that be then?
The only one I can think of is that Welsh teams suffer the consequences of the National team playing a game outside the International windows.
That observation would apply to any nation doing the same thing, it just so happens Wales are the team that do so on a regular basis.

As posted above if joining the English Premiership is not going to happen what are the alternatives?

Little digs and jibes such as ‘the league would be more competitive without the Welsh and Zebre’. I mean, it would be accurate if the Welsh finished bottom 5 with Zebre every year. But they don’t. So it’s either a Wum or a dig not based on truth.

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Post by Hazel Sapling Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:56 pm

You are welcome to your opinion RugbyFan, I disagree with you on Central Contracts and the 60 cap rule. Theoretically a good idea that has not worked. On GDP, I have said it is a proxy and agree it is not a perfect measure. I have neither the time nor the inclination to pull together a list of rich Welsh businessman who may or may not be interested in subsidising rugby clubs. Point was around capacity to support 8-10 clubs. As said not an expert and sorry for entering a Welsh thread on a wider forum with basic ideas. Feel free to ignore me.

Oracle, it is a fair point about WRU capability. I think there is a problem for Welsh rugby if the responsibility of the regions success is based on the financial support a Welsh businessman is able/willing to provide. If businessmen/women want out and the regions are losing money (not able to support themselves), then the WRU will be forced into a lender of last resort anyway or face seeing a region being asset stripped/collapse.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 3:59 pm

Hazel Sapling wrote:You are welcome to your opinion RugbyFan, I disagree with you on Central Contracts and the 60 cap rule. Theoretically a good idea that has not worked.

How has it not worked? How many of the current Welsh team have moved to English clubs from a Welsh team compared to say 10 years ago?


I think there is a problem for Welsh rugby if the responsibility of the regions success is based on the financial support a Welsh businessman is able/willing to provide. If businessmen/women want out and the regions are losing money (not able to support themselves), then the WRU will be forced into a lender of last resort anyway or face seeing a region being asset stripped/collapse.

Which has been the case for over 20 years. Although the amount now pumped in is considerably less than it was. (Both Scarlets and Cardiff were self sustaining and made a profit before Covid hit)

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 19 Apr 2022, 4:13 pm

Oracle it is not a dig but a, sadly, honest assessment of where I see Welsh regional rugby going within the existing URC.

I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

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Post by Brendan Tue 19 Apr 2022, 4:43 pm

I'm not sure how much away trips matter to most people.  In US terms vast majority of sports don't have away fans unless they live in the city your team is visiting.  Soccer is the same few fans on a Wednesday night are going from Londan to Lancashire (The two big regions for teams and good transport between regions). In theory not having to spend money going away should make more fans be able to attend at home.

I know the majority of Welsh fans understand that the problems with Welsh Rugby is internal rather than external.  For the small minority that think the solution is to leave the URC aren't looking at why the highest placed Welsh team may well be 9th while to 2 Scots will probably make the playoffs or why Edinburgh were compeditive in SA and Scots only gave a draw at home v SA while Wales weren't as successful.

Wales have a phyiscality issue with how they play and they are successful when they are able to negate it (just like the Scots, Ulster and Connacht).  Like SR is going to suffer without the SA teams to test them the Welsh would struggle if they went alone and lost out on games with SA and Munster and Leinster and probably Ulster.

Welsh going alone would make the problem worse as the URC can make the hard decisions and WRU remain clean, but if WRU are responsible for all decisions then internal fighting will be worse.  It's why Ireland brought in a stranger to make decisions about contracts because it's his fault if it goes wrong.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Tue 19 Apr 2022, 4:51 pm

Brendan wrote:

Welsh going alone would make the problem worse as the URC can make the hard decisions and WRU remain clean, but if WRU are responsible for all decisions then internal fighting will be worse.  It's why Ireland brought in a stranger to make decisions about contracts because it's his fault if it goes wrong.

Which is why they need to be in a league controlled by clubs like in England and France. Unions should be nowhere near pro club rugby competitions.

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Post by Guest Tue 19 Apr 2022, 5:02 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Oracle it is not a dig but a, sadly, honest assessment of where I see Welsh regional rugby going within the existing URC.

I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

No doubt we've got worse over the last few years, but as I say with Zebre usually bottom the next 4 bottom places are never all 4 Welsh teams. So to say the league would be more competitive without them (the Welsh and Zebre) is a bit daft as some of the Scottish, both Italian and some of the SA teams have finished in the last 4 or 5 places too in the last few years. Just look at last year: the bottom 5 teams over the 2 conferences were the 2 Italians, 2 Scots and Dragons. You can see the finishing positions here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Rugby_Championship




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Post by Brendan Tue 19 Apr 2022, 6:00 pm

RugbyFan100 wrote:
Brendan wrote:

Welsh going alone would make the problem worse as the URC can make the hard decisions and WRU remain clean, but if WRU are responsible for all decisions then internal fighting will be worse.  It's why Ireland brought in a stranger to make decisions about contracts because it's his fault if it goes wrong.

Which is why they need to be in a  league controlled by clubs like in England and France. Unions should be nowhere near pro club rugby competitions.

According to the laws of rugby no team can play another team without the Unions permission or WR if many unions involved. It is why the rebel season is called that. If the RFU and WRU had wanted they could have put punishment on every player and team involved. They choose not to (rightly or wrongly)

Anything that happens in Wales will needs the Union's approval and they will veto whatever they want. They are hardly going to walk away from the URC that has real value for something else.

Brendan

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The Welsh Regions and the URC Empty Re: The Welsh Regions and the URC

Post by carpet baboon Tue 19 Apr 2022, 6:40 pm

I see the Welsh clubs going into the second tier of English rugby has been mentioned again.
Only problem is a good few clubs in that league would veto it. Jersey, Ealing, Doncaster etc don't want more competition in getting promoted. And which 4 clubs make way for the Welsh teams?
No promotion for 5 years you say to sweeten the deal... well unless they can be relegated in that 5 years they won't be let in.
I just can't see any value for the English top two leagues for inviting the Welsh in.
Maybe you could find a way into national 1 and work your way up. But how many of the top players will hang around? Very few.
I just can't see any way in which the Welsh move into the English leagues.

I want the Welsh to be competitive, I have enjoyed days out at all the regions even been to a couple of the double headers at the principality. But moving to English league, even if it makes a lot of sense for the Welsh, can't see any benefit for the English

carpet baboon

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The Welsh Regions and the URC Empty Re: The Welsh Regions and the URC

Post by Guest Tue 19 Apr 2022, 6:57 pm

1 person has mentioned it (joining the English league) on this thread! 1 ffs!

Guest
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The Welsh Regions and the URC Empty Re: The Welsh Regions and the URC

Post by carpet baboon Tue 19 Apr 2022, 7:34 pm

The Oracle wrote:1 person has mentioned it (joining the English league) on this thread! 1 ffs!

Yes and I was just giving my opinion on why it would never happen. That's what these things are for ain't they? Comments and opinion's.
Or have I got that wrong?

carpet baboon

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The Welsh Regions and the URC Empty Re: The Welsh Regions and the URC

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