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The Welsh Regions and the URC

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

First topic message reminder :

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 No 7&1/2 Wed Apr 27, 2022 5:28 pm

What are the correct areas though. What is your view of success and failure?

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed Apr 27, 2022 5:35 pm

RugbyFan100 wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:What is failure in your view?

Losing games and not making a profit I guess.

So all 4 welsh clubs would need to be replaced after 1 season?

Every team bar about 3 in the UK and Ireland loses games and fails to make a profit. I guess they should all be disbanded too?

This response is so dumb. The rate in which the Welsh teams are losing matches (at every level like I alluded to) and losing money or not making enough profit is a serious cause for concern - that was my point which everyone else seems to get. It has been on a downward spiral for years and wasn’t addressed by those who run the game - that again is a cause for concern.

I know there are mid-table teams in France and England that lose some games and might not make a profit, but their situation is a whole lot better than ours, so much so that they do not need to worry about their future.

For me (along with a few trophies) it’s just how I currently measure success, I mean that was the question asked and that is what I responded to Smile.

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed Apr 27, 2022 5:46 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:There are only 4 teams in Wales anywhere near the capability of pro rugby. "Promoting" any other sides like Pontypridd or Merthyr to take their place is ludicrous. There is probably not even the infrastructure to fit camera crews in their grounds. That's before thinking what the results would be when they play away in South Africa and Leinster.

Why Pontypridd or Merthyr ?

Why not somewhere in North Wales ? Parc Eirias manages for Wales A games. Or there is the Wrexham Association Football Club ground.

Just a thought.

Well if RugbyFan even thinks it is ludicrous, that says a lot!

There won’t be another pro team anywhere in the Valleys, whatever area this encompasses. The reasons have already been said, but their players also go to the pro regions in the cities, so there is no need to dilute as it would make every team including the proposed ‘Valley Raiders’ absolutely crap. If someone’s grandparents don’t like the idea of driving half hour south for their little’uns to get a shot then I guess it’s tough. We already tried re-branding btw, I'm not sure if it was that helpful.

One day I would like to see North Wales have a pro rugby team. Did they even have a top flight team in the amateur era? It’s a big ask, let’s wait to see how RGC keep going first. Aside from that you would also need greater travel and stadium infrastructure, a bigger population, more wealth, and a billionaire investor who is willing to lose millions per year. Get all that and it could take anywhere between 10 and 50 years.

I’m not concerned about dragons getting the snip btw, it’s not going to happen. We, as supporters, have already discussed the idea and accepted it though. So if you want to use this to rub Newport folks up the wrong way then try harder.

PS - this is not an invitation for you to slide into my DMs Wink laughing


Last edited by mikey_dragon on Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:28 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Recwatcher16 Wed Apr 27, 2022 9:39 pm

The discussion about how much money and where it is spent in the welsh game, is simply rearranging the deck chairs.

The irish are congratulating themselves on their self perpetuating cycle of success in the cross border competition but financially were getting left behind as welsh interest has dwindled. Scotland and Italy don't appear to have any intention to grow their domestic game and so inviting the SA sides who are also chasing the money, bumps up the revenue in the short term.

The SA sides if honest would say they would much rather measure themselves against the NZ sides but because of the Rand they need the TV money and are undoubtedly targeting 6N membership.

All of the above simply leaves the welsh sides behind. If the WRU wants to persists with four teams then the cross border league needs an equitable salary cap.

The alternative, in the short to medium term, is a domestic semi professional league to rekindle domestic interest and have WRU paid selected players for teams ( East & West Wales ?) which only play the Euro competitions as preparation for the 6N and RWCs. This will get dismissed by those on here because of comparisons with other sporting nations but there is no other effective strategy to protecting and maintaining interest in the game across Wales.

The alternative is a steady decline in the domestic scene broken by the occasional big win at Test level. Perhaps that is the natural evolution but doesn't feel right when it comes to the contribution of welsh sides in the history of the game.

As far as joining the English Premiership, the WRU had their chance 25 years ago and blew it.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 9:32 am

mikey_dragon wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:What is failure in your view?

Losing games and not making a profit I guess.

So all 4 welsh clubs would need to be replaced after 1 season?

Every team bar about 3 in the UK and Ireland loses games and fails to make a profit. I guess they should all be disbanded too?

This response is so dumb. The rate in which the Welsh teams are losing matches (at every level like I alluded to) and losing money or not making enough profit is a serious cause for concern - that was my point which everyone else seems to get. It has been on a downward spiral for years and wasn’t addressed by those who run the game - that again is a cause for concern.

I mean Cardiff and Scarlets both made a profit before covid hit. Something which most pro clubs in the UK and Ireland do not do. So you're just wrong.

This "Making a profit" is just a bizarre way of looking at success. I think perhaps you need to do a little background reading on why so many sporting entities are loss making, and why it has no bearing on their success.

I know there are mid-table teams in France and England that lose some games and might not make a profit, but their situation is a whole lot better than ours, so much so that they do not need to worry about their future.
.

Please tell me the teams in the UK and Ireland that "make a profit" Mikey.


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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 9:36 am

Recwatcher16 wrote:

The alternative, in the short to medium term, is a domestic semi professional league to rekindle domestic interest and have WRU paid selected players for teams ( East & West Wales ?) which only play the Euro competitions as preparation for the 6N and RWCs. This will get dismissed by those on here because of comparisons with other sporting nations but there is no other effective strategy to protecting and maintaining interest in the game across Wales.

.

So what happens to the privately run rugby teams currently in existence, and their employees?

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 9:46 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:So what happens to the privately run rugby teams currently in existence, and their employees?

The same thing that would happen to the people involved with the clubs in the community game that you want to disband.

They will have to find something else to do. OK

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 10:04 am

LordDowlais wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:So what happens to the privately run rugby teams currently in existence, and their employees?

The same thing that would happen to the people involved with the clubs in the community game that you want to disband.

They will have to find something else to do. OK

I see, so this is the plan:

The 4 current regions are not included in this semi professional domestic league, and they go bust as a result as they have nowhere to play (with the loss of approximately 300 jobs). The WRU picks up the tab for the Wales internationals and places them on central contracts in whichever teams they want. This could possibly be in an East and West teams, although they would not play in Parc y Scarlets, Cardiff Arms Park or the Swansea.com stadium as their owners are still livid that the WRU made their teams go bust. So the Wales players will have to play and train facilities like the Gnoll, Carmarthen Quins and the Brewery field. The competition fails to get a tv deal with sky, bt sport and is shown on bbc2 and s4c for 500k a year. The East and West sides could be put forward to the Heineken Cup as Wales two representative sides.

Meanwhile the other squad players like Lousi, Haloholo, Patchell, Rhys Webb find that nobody in Wales can afford to pay them as WRU can only afford to pay for the best 20 or so test players. So they go and play in England and France. This leaves the Wales test players playing against and with, semi pro players who have full time jobs. Excellent preparation for the Euro cups and test rugby. First round of Euro matches results in West Wales Velociraptors losing 134-0 to Leinster. Longer term, the WRU cannot sell any tickets for Wales matches, as Wales have lost 44 matches in a row, therefore it cuts it's community rugby budget from £12m to £2m. 120 rugby clubs in Wales go bust as a result.

That, my friends is a masterplan which will lead to Wales' utter dominance in both domestic and test rugby. Job done, end of thread.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 10:29 am

The thing is RF, you have a very elitist veiw on Welsh rugby. You would happily destroy communities built around their rugby clubs just so that your Pro team can have more money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I does not go down well, and the only thing it will do is generate more angst towards the regions, who are already getting accused of favouritism in Wales.

Perhaps, as you have already mentioned on this thread, if Scarlets did not pay inflated wages to players who do not deserve it, then you would have enough money to challenge the squads like Leinster.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 10:51 am

LordDowlais wrote:The thing is RF, you have a very elitist veiw on Welsh rugby. You would happily destroy communities built around their rugby clubs just so that your Pro team can have more money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I've never heard the 4 regions being called rich before. If an amateur club can't survive on its memberships then maybe it should merge with the nearest club rather than drain money that is sorely needed elsewhere.

I does not go down well, and the only thing it will do is generate more angst towards the regions, who are already getting accused of favouritism in Wales.

Perhaps, as you have already mentioned on this thread, if Scarlets did not pay inflated wages to players who do not deserve it, then you would have enough money to challenge the squads like Leinster.

What about the other 3 regions?

It's a solution to the current problem of uncompetitiveness. There are too many rugby clubs in Wales. If you don't want the 4 pro teams to get better, then fine, don't change anything.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 10:52 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:The thing is RF, you have a very elitist veiw on Welsh rugby. You would happily destroy communities built around their rugby clubs just so that your Pro team can have more money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I've never heard the 4 regions being called rich before. If an amateur club can't survive on its memberships then maybe it should merge with the nearest club rather than drain money that is sorely needed elsewhere.

I does not go down well, and the only thing it will do is generate more angst towards the regions, who are already getting accused of favouritism in Wales.

Perhaps, as you have already mentioned on this thread, if Scarlets did not pay inflated wages to players who do not deserve it, then you would have enough money to challenge the squads like Leinster.

What about the other 3 regions?

It's a solution to the current problem of uncompetitiveness. There are too many rugby clubs in Wales. If you don't want the 4 pro teams to get better, then fine, don't change anything.

Reminder you want the 4 teams to go into the second tier in another nations league structure, and were happy to see that they couldn't be promoted in the first 5 years and for them to lose their best players as long as it meant 3pm kick offs on a Saturday.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 10:57 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:The thing is RF, you have a very elitist veiw on Welsh rugby. You would happily destroy communities built around their rugby clubs just so that your Pro team can have more money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I've never heard the 4 regions being called rich before. If an amateur club can't survive on its memberships then maybe it should merge with the nearest club rather than drain money that is sorely needed elsewhere.

I does not go down well, and the only thing it will do is generate more angst towards the regions, who are already getting accused of favouritism in Wales.

Perhaps, as you have already mentioned on this thread, if Scarlets did not pay inflated wages to players who do not deserve it, then you would have enough money to challenge the squads like Leinster.

What about the other 3 regions?

It's a solution to the current problem of uncompetitiveness. There are too many rugby clubs in Wales. If you don't want the 4 pro teams to get better, then fine, don't change anything.

Reminder you want the 4 teams to go into the second tier in another nations league structure, and were happy to see that they couldn't be promoted in the first 5 years and for them to lose their best players as long as it meant 3pm kick offs on a Saturday.

Don't need a reminder.

Cheers.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:02 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:I've never heard the 4 regions being called rich before. If an amateur club can't survive on its memberships then maybe it should merge with the nearest club rather than drain money that is sorely needed elsewhere.

How did that go down when a few months ago it was being suggested that Ospreys and Scarlets should merge to save money that was sorely needed elsewhere ?

RugbyFan100 wrote:What about the other 3 regions?

It's a solution to the current problem of uncompetitiveness. There are too many rugby clubs in Wales. If you don't want the 4 pro teams to get better, then fine, don't change anything.

Well they could all do what you have suggested, and stop paying over inflated wages to players who do not deserve it.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:09 am

LordDowlais wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:I've never heard the 4 regions being called rich before. If an amateur club can't survive on its memberships then maybe it should merge with the nearest club rather than drain money that is sorely needed elsewhere.

How did that go down when a few months ago it was being suggested that Ospreys and Scarlets should merge to save money that was sorely needed elsewhere ?

If all parties agree to it, and it's beneficial for the model then it's a good idea.


Well they could all do what you have suggested, and stop paying over inflated wages to players who do not deserve it.

As they should, agreed. Not sure that would mean they suddenly win trophies though.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:31 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:If all parties agree to it, and it's beneficial for the model then it's a good idea.

Yes, you are saying that on here. But it did not go down well in Ospreylia, or further west. OK

RugbyFan100 wrote:As they should, agreed. Not sure that would mean they suddenly win trophies though.

It would free up much needed funds to spend elsewhere, like on better coaches, or more players.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:42 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:The thing is RF, you have a very elitist veiw on Welsh rugby. You would happily destroy communities built around their rugby clubs just so that your Pro team can have more money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I've never heard the 4 regions being called rich before. If an amateur club can't survive on its memberships then maybe it should merge with the nearest club rather than drain money that is sorely needed elsewhere.

I does not go down well, and the only thing it will do is generate more angst towards the regions, who are already getting accused of favouritism in Wales.

Perhaps, as you have already mentioned on this thread, if Scarlets did not pay inflated wages to players who do not deserve it, then you would have enough money to challenge the squads like Leinster.

What about the other 3 regions?

It's a solution to the current problem of uncompetitiveness. There are too many rugby clubs in Wales. If you don't want the 4 pro teams to get better, then fine, don't change anything.

Reminder you want the 4 teams to go into the second tier in another nations league structure, and were happy to see that they couldn't be promoted in the first 5 years and for them to lose their best players as long as it meant 3pm kick offs on a Saturday.

Don't need a reminder.

Cheers.

Going from playing in a top tier and in Europe to second fiddle with Jersey just seems very much at odds with getting better and more competitive (presumably you mean at the top level of the game). More like a downward spiral. But, I'm still unsure of what you (and LD) actually want to see from proposed changes.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:58 am

More like a downward spiral. But, I'm still unsure of what you (and LD) actually want to see from proposed changes. wrote:

I do not really want the Welsh teams in the English second tier, I havent asked for it either, I have said it is not in the realms of fantasy for it to happen.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 12:31 pm

No the actual result. Ie is your proposed changes to an all Welsh league because you want it to be all owned by private owners, is it because you want to see a league which isn't dominated by 1 team (or if it is at least they're welsh), is it because the union would then have more access for cheaper to Welsh players for the national side, is it to improve the national side, do you think it would mean more challenge for Europe for Welsh teams, or more bums on seats, bigger tv figures, more money, more say etc etc.

One of the issues reading through threads like this is you're all seemingly want one or more of these aims but you all seem to think you're on the same page as to this. I don't think you are but it's hard to tell hence the question. Rugby Fan for instance stated he wanted to 3pm games on a Saturday and with the ability to travel to away games. That was his starting position. Now I still think the possibility of the Championship clubs (with the go ahead of the RFU) agreeing to relegating 4 of their teams to make way for the Welsh is more fantasy than anything. However if you're saying that they would also agree to Rugby Fans further asks ie the RFU to stop running the league, tv companies suddenly paying top dollar for a 2nd tier league, agreeing to a wage cap etc then sorry it is fantasy.

Ignoring that second point I'd like to know your view of the optimal outcome you're wanting though. And I replied to Rugby Fan saying your all Welsh proposal is much more likely to meet his 3pm and away games than any other solution.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 12:35 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:
Going from playing in a top tier and in Europe to second fiddle with Jersey just seems very much at odds with getting better and more competitive

It does, doesn't it.

But, I'm still unsure of what you (and LD) actually want to see from proposed changes.

That much is evident.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 12:43 pm

RugbyFan100 wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:
Going from playing in a top tier and in Europe to second fiddle with Jersey just seems very much at odds with getting better and more competitive

It does, doesn't it.

But, I'm still unsure of what you (and LD) actually want to see from proposed changes.

That much is evident.

Hence why I thought you needed a reminder of your initial suggestion which as you accept is at odds with your quote.

As for your second point, that's why I've asked the question; which you're failing to expand on again.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 12:54 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:
Going from playing in a top tier and in Europe to second fiddle with Jersey just seems very much at odds with getting better and more competitive

It does, doesn't it.

But, I'm still unsure of what you (and LD) actually want to see from proposed changes.

That much is evident.

Hence why I thought you needed a reminder of your initial suggestion which as you accept is at odds with your quote.

As for your second point, that's why I've asked the question; which you're failing to expand on again.

Blimey, ok, I’ll try again.
What I would like to see in a perfect world:
-The 4 Welsh sides in the English Premiership.

What I would like to see that is more realistic (but still unlikely):
-The Welsh sides in some sort of new Championship competition with long term goals / possibilities of integrating into the Premiership. I can totally understand why some would not see this as a good route. Some of my fellow season ticket holding friends think it’s nonsense as it would jeapordise the Wales players playing in a strong league. But that’s the point we’ve come to.

What is completely unlikely:
-A Welsh only semi professional or fully pro league with Wales test players in it. More chance of the Welsh teams joining the French league than this happening. This dilutes everything. Which is not the case in other "solutions".

What I think will happen:
-Absolutely nothing

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:02 pm

There is a very interesting interview in the WOL regarding what we are talking about here with Martin Anayi:-

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/money-shouldnt-necessarily-reason-failing-23789549

'Money shouldn’t necessarily be a reason for failing' — URC chief's verdict on Welsh teams
URC chief executive Martin Anayi has been speaking to the media about the cross-continent competition

The inaugural season of the United Rugby Championship is heading towards its conclusion, amid a qualification battle both for Europe and the play-offs. So how has it gone with the four South African Super Rugby sides on board and what’s the verdict on the Welsh teams, with all eight of them in the bottom half of the 16-team table? Martin Anayi is the chief executive of the URC and he has sat down with the media to answer the key questions.

Q: How would you assess the situation with the Welsh teams and the way the URC is viewed in Wales?

A: I was down in Swansea visiting the Welsh regions, their chairs and CEOs, two weeks ago. They have got an absolute commitment to being at the top of our table. You have got teams there with budgets that are bigger than the budgets in the English Premiership next season, so money shouldn’t necessarily be a reason for failing. I think there is something else that they need to look at there. I know there are very good discussions going on with Steve Phillips (WRU CEO) about getting funding sorted out for next season and getting a platform for them to build from.

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I saw what is possible with a strong Welsh region, when the Scarlets won our league in 2017, defeating Leinster away from home and then beating Munster in the final. We just haven’t seen enough of it. We get really great support from our broadcast partners in Wales, there’s a really ardent fan base. If you have one ear on social media, you might think it’s all doom and gloom. I get a lot on the opposite side on how committed they are to the competition and how much they want to win it. Success will go a long way in Wales. When Scarlets won the league, the following year crowds went up in at least three of the four regions. Success on the pitch has got to be a key priority for rugby in Wales.

The regions are connecting better to the club game than they have ever done before. Cardiff is a good example in terms of how they are using Cardiff RFC now as a development pathway. Hopefully the connection between regional and club rugby will get stronger and stronger and that will serve us in good stead. Having a disconnect between the two hasn’t served anybody at all.

Q: One concern Welsh fans have raised this season is kick-off times, in particular the number of games at 7.35pm on a Saturday evening. Is there anything you can do address those grievances?

A: It was a key talking point when I met the Welsh regional bosses and it’s one of the key issues we want to address. As always, when you have free-to-air broadcasting there is a trade-off in terms of less flexibility with kick-offs. They have very fixed times when they can put live rugby on and it tends to be Friday or Saturday evening.

But we have talked to all our broadcasters about earlier slots that work better from an attendance point of view because that’s what this is all about - getting more bums on seats and getting more people to watch it on TV. So kick off times do need to improve, certainly in Wales, but also in Scotland. There is continuous dialogue with our clubs to try and get the best balance of full attendance, but also as many people watching on TV as possible.

Q: How do you view current attendance levels in the league?

A: We all need to work hard to bring people back into games post Covid. But, saying that, Cardiff had over 10,000 into their ground at the weekend and we had 22,000 in Durban, which I was very encouraged by. They have invested in a water slide park at one end of the field and they have got a beach bar at the other end and they put a concert on after the game. That’s how hard we have to work to improve the fan experience, not just because money is tight but because the TV product is so good. We are doing a mystery shopper exercise in Wales at the moment where we have a company providing scores back to the clubs to see how they can improve things so fans can have a better experience.

Q: You had a situation this season where the South African sides travelled to Europe without their international stars and the same happened when European teams headed down to South Africa. Is there any way of avoiding that moving forward?

A: We started the season with all four South African teams touring Europe for four weeks for Covid-related reasons. That won’t happen next season, that’s not the format we want to see deployed. We will do two at home in South Africa and two in Europe on any given weekend. So we will see a better spread of games.

In terms of the clash with the Rugby Championship in the autumn, that alignment of those windows needs to be improved from our perspective to see those Springbok players available in the first rounds of our competition. We think that’s achievable. There’s a good conversation happening around aligning those windows better so it won’t have an effect on the start of our season.

With 25 matches having to be rescheduled due to Covid we unfortunately had to put fixtures into the Six Nations period this year. We will not be playing across international weekends next season. It’s then for all of us to have conversations with our Unions about when players are released from camp. That’s the bit we are focusing on at the moment. There’s a bit of discrepancy between what happens in England with the RFU and what happens with our Unions. Getting some continuity and consistency across our Unions is important for sporting integrity.

Q: How do you reflect on the first year of the URC as a whole?

A: We had a great start to the season and then obviously we were out in South Africa when the omicron variant was detected. It was a tough couple of months, really, really difficult. To get through that period and re-schedule all 25 postponed games has been really pleasing. Now we are getting to the point of the season where it’s all to play for and the South African teams we have brought in are really stepping up.

On the broadcasting front, our strategy was to have more free-to-air television in our domestic markets. We are really pleased we have been able to break through the 13.3m viewers over 12 rounds. We have surpassed the total amount of viewers from last season already and will push that even higher through the final rounds. So I really think URC has got off to a good start.

Q: How much of a dent did that omicron episode out in South Africa have on the season in the sense that you’ve been playing catch-up ever since?

A: It was damaging. It was damaging being out in South Africa knowing how hurt they were. It was the first time we were going to see them in the URC on home patch. We had to wait until March for that to come to fruition. But one thing we have learned over the past couple of years is you got to be resilient, roll with the punches and keep bouncing back. It was a very cathartic experience for the four teams to go back in March. We had a great time. So while what happened in November was not forgotten it was put behind us and we got to move on.

Q: Under your new European qualification system, the team that finishes eighth is probably going to be squeezed out of the Champions Cup to bring in a team from Wales? How do you feel about that?

A: The main concern was you would get four strong South African sides in and it would mean Celtic or Italian sides missing out. The reason we did it was to make sure the Champions Cup is as broad a church as possible with teams from as many countries as possible. It was felt this mechanism gave us a broader reach and broader distribution.

We entered into it knowing we might get these kind of discrepancies from a sporting integrity point of view, which is why we put a two year review in. If we get into this situation twice, I think it’s highly likely we would then revert back to straight jeopardy with the top eight going through regardless of where they are from.

I like the breadth personally. I like seeing the Welsh, Scottish and Italian sides in the Champions Cup. There were more people with me than against me on that point. Have we got it exactly right? That’s why the review is there in a year’s time.

Q: Is there are prospect of a salary cap being imposed in the URC?

A: I am fan of the salary cap in general as a mechanism. I do like the idea if it’s in conjunction with other measures, such as distribution of talent. But it would have be done in away that makes sense and that can only really be where it’s applied across European club rugby. It tends to be the teams with the biggest budgets are the most successful. If you do what they are doing in England and reducing their salary cap to £5m plus some upticks for marquee players etc, the danger is you lose that stardust appeal and competitiveness in Europe, with players moving to other leagues.

Q: With twice as many South African sides on board now, compared to the old PRO14, to what extent has the competition income increased?

A: It is materially higher than it was. We have contracts with SuperSport and sponsors in South Africa. We didn’t do it for the money. We did it because we thought the four teams coming in would add to the competition and I think we are seeing that with Stormers second in the table, Sharks into fourth, Bulls eighth. So it’s not just about the money but that has obviously increased considerably. We took a huge hit cost-wise on the year due to Covid, but we will still be more profitable this year than we were last year. The distribution back to the clubs is more this year in spite of that experience.

Q: Having a cross-continent tournament played over two hemispheres is still an alien concept for many people. How much work is there still to do from a marketing point of view to bring the doubters on board?

A: We just won’t stop until the message is out there that we’ve got a competition that is as competitive as any other in world rugby right now. You’ve got ten teams in contention for the play-offs and you could see Leinster being pushed at the top, which is interesting. I think that will continue. You have got the likes of the Lions who are re-building and they will get stronger. The Welsh teams are going to get stronger over the next two years. The Italian sides will benefit from games moving off international weekends.

Q: Is there potential for a second division of the URC, which is something the Cheetahs have been talking about recently?

A: No, it’s not on the cards. We have a job on our hands to make sure the URC is as good as it can possibly be and we are getting there.

Q: On the same tack, is there any possibility of having some form of promotion and relegation?

A: That’s not on the cards either. We are just focusing on the 16 teams we have. Our job is to help the teams that have struggled this season, like the Dragons and Zebre, to get better. That might be new funding, whichever way we can help them to get better. But relegation isn’t on the cards. We have contracts with each of our teams. It’s a closed league effectively. It’s there to make sure those teams can be sustainable and invest in getting better without the fear of being relegated to an unknown competition. It’s a little bit different to the situation in France and England. There isn’t an established division below us. There’s nowhere to go for those teams to be relegated.

Q: One issue that people consistently complain about is refereeing and officiating in the league. How can you improve it?

A: We have brought Tappe Henning in as head of officials. He is very experienced and his brief is very wide. There are improvements that need to be made to the consistency of the officiating. Where we need to get is the referee and the TMO working as a team. More needs to be done in conjunction with the Premiership and the Top 14. There is a need for consistency across the board, not just in the URC. We have made progress but there has to be more progress so it’s something that doesn’t get talked about as often as it does.

Q: Having matches in international windows did give younger players a chance to get experience. Is that something you are aware of amid changing the format?

A: We have been asked to look at an A-team league or a next generation competition that might fit that role. That might be 4-6 weekends a year within the international weekends. Some teams have reduced squads because they don’t have to play on international weekends, so it would have be a development younger U23 competition for it to work.

Q: Are there any plans to have a weekly highlights or review show?

A: We do like that idea. Super Sport do a very good wrap-up show on a Sunday night and a midweek programme which is more of a talking show. We need to do more to educate southern hemisphere audiences about who northern hemisphere teams are and vice versa. So a midweek show that goes into that depth about who the players and coaches are would be something we are missing and that we could do with.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:04 pm

I mean that's even taking a step back from your initial point. Your initial outcome was 3pm games on a Saturday and be able to travel to away games. That was the aim with a question of how to get there. I suggested it was much more likely to tick off those points from playing in a Welsh league.

Now in a perfect world you would be playing in the prem, where it's just as likely you'd be asked to play on a Friday or a Sunday and at various times on Saturday as now!

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Post by RugbyFan100 Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:08 pm

Goodbye.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:14 pm

The logic has failed you really there then. Reading between the lines the 3pm thing really isn't your aim at all. My guessing and filling in the blanks would lead me to think that the true aim is you believe plaing in the prem would offer more money to Cardiff to afford better players and you think the prem would be easier to compete in than playing Leinster. That's my guess; but lack of transparency from you means it is only a guess.


Last edited by No 7&1/2 on Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:16 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Guest Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:14 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:No the actual result. Ie is your proposed changes to an all Welsh league because you want it to be all owned by private owners, is it because you want to see a league which isn't dominated by 1 team (or if it is at least they're welsh), is it because the union would then have more access for cheaper to Welsh players for the national side, is it to improve the national side, do you think it would mean more challenge for Europe for Welsh teams, or more bums on seats, bigger tv figures, more money, more say etc etc.

One of the issues reading through threads like this is you're all seemingly want one or more of these aims but you all seem to think you're on the same page as to this. I don't think you are but it's hard to tell hence the question. Rugby Fan for instance stated he wanted to 3pm games on a Saturday and with the ability to travel to away games. That was his starting position. Now I still think the possibility of the Championship clubs (with the go ahead of the RFU) agreeing to relegating 4 of their teams to make way for the Welsh is more fantasy than anything. However if you're saying that they would also agree to Rugby Fans further asks ie the RFU to stop running the league, tv companies suddenly paying top dollar for a 2nd tier league, agreeing to a wage cap etc then sorry it is fantasy.

Ignoring that second point I'd like to know your view of the optimal outcome you're wanting though. And I replied to Rugby Fan saying your all Welsh proposal is much more likely to meet his 3pm and away games than any other solution.


I think a lot of people (in Wales, in the community) just want a top tier domestic Welsh league. That's it. And it doesn't matter (for some) if the teams in that league are not very good as they'll all be not very good. But at least then they have regular games with local rivals, etc. So some people are willing to sacrifice quality of the sides for that in order to return to a league they can really get behind. I think LD's proposal in the OP is for something like that. I can sympathise with that train of thought. It's not my preference but I can see the appeal. For me personally though I wouldn't want to sacrifice the quality (I know it's not exactly great now, but it would be worse if we went to 10 teams) of the current 4 pro sides. LDs proposal we already sort of have with the Welsh Prem, just that they don't have any internationals/top pro players and it is not the top tier of the Welsh 'pyramid'. That league is not that well supported, so closing the regions and just putting those 4 x regional squads into the 10 prem teams and making it the top tier........ I'm not sure that's going to suddenly change the Welsh Prem much. Would it really lead to a big swing in those watching it?

The 2nd bit in bold above - not sure if I've misunderstood you, but are you suggesting we all (welsh posters) think we're on the same page?! No-one for one minute thinks we're all on the same page! Surely years of posting on here would tell you that the views amongst fans are polarised on pretty much every topic! We've got extreme views at each end of the spectrum and everything in between! I think the only thing we agree on is that there is no agreement about what we all want. So maybe I've just misunderstood you.

I think to summarise just 3 of the posters on this thread:
Rugby Fan wants regions to be entered into the English leagues.
Lord Dowlais wants a return to a 8-10 club all welsh top division.
Oracle wants to remain in the Pro16 but possibly entering club sides into it on a permit basis (e.g. 5 years with the possibility of someone else taking a place if they meet criteria and one of the 'chosen 4' was performing poorly).
Risca - not sure, but possibly wants reform of the 2nd tier Welsh prem to improve the players coming through?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:25 pm

The Oracle wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:No the actual result. Ie is your proposed changes to an all Welsh league because you want it to be all owned by private owners, is it because you want to see a league which isn't dominated by 1 team (or if it is at least they're welsh), is it because the union would then have more access for cheaper to Welsh players for the national side, is it to improve the national side, do you think it would mean more challenge for Europe for Welsh teams, or more bums on seats, bigger tv figures, more money, more say etc etc.

One of the issues reading through threads like this is you're all seemingly want one or more of these aims but you all seem to think you're on the same page as to this. I don't think you are but it's hard to tell hence the question. Rugby Fan for instance stated he wanted to 3pm games on a Saturday and with the ability to travel to away games. That was his starting position. Now I still think the possibility of the Championship clubs (with the go ahead of the RFU) agreeing to relegating 4 of their teams to make way for the Welsh is more fantasy than anything. However if you're saying that they would also agree to Rugby Fans further asks ie the RFU to stop running the league, tv companies suddenly paying top dollar for a 2nd tier league, agreeing to a wage cap etc then sorry it is fantasy.

Ignoring that second point I'd like to know your view of the optimal outcome you're wanting though. And I replied to Rugby Fan saying your all Welsh proposal is much more likely to meet his 3pm and away games than any other solution.


I think a lot of people (in Wales, in the community) just want a top tier domestic Welsh league.  That's it.  And it doesn't matter (for some) if the teams in that league are not very good as they'll all be not very good.  But at least then they have regular games with local rivals, etc.  So some people are willing to sacrifice quality of the sides for that in order to return to a league they can really get behind.  I think LD's proposal in the OP is for something like that.  I can sympathise with that train of thought.  It's not my preference but I can see the appeal.  For me personally though I wouldn't want to sacrifice the quality (I know it's not exactly great now, but it would be worse if we went to 10 teams) of the current 4 pro sides.  LDs proposal we already sort of have with the Welsh Prem, just that they don't have any internationals/top pro players and it is not the top tier of the Welsh 'pyramid'.  That league is not that well supported, so closing the regions and just putting those 4 x regional squads into the 10 prem teams and making it the top tier........ I'm not sure that's going to suddenly change the Welsh Prem much.  Would it really lead to a big swing in those watching it?

The 2nd bit in bold above - not sure if I've misunderstood you, but are you suggesting we all (welsh posters) think we're on the same page?!  No-one for one minute thinks we're all on the same page!  Surely years of posting on here would tell you that the views amongst fans are polarised on pretty much every topic! We've got extreme views at each end of the spectrum and everything in between!  I think the only thing we agree on is that there is no agreement about what we all want.  So maybe I've just misunderstood you.

I think to summarise just 3 of the posters on this thread:
Rugby Fan wants regions to be entered into the English leagues.
Lord Dowlais wants a return to a 8-10 club all welsh top division.
Oracle wants to remain in the Pro16 but possibly entering club sides into it on a permit basis (e.g. 5 years with the possibility of someone else taking a place if they meet criteria and one of the 'chosen 4' was performing poorly).
Risca - not sure, but possibly wants reform of the 2nd tier Welsh prem to improve the players coming through?

Cheers Oracle. And LD's suggestion ticks off loads of positives that loads of people would love. The more close knit nature, the local feel rather than a league or conference system which feels in general more suited to that secondary cherry on the top nature of a European Cup. The ying to that yang is for me it would have a detrimental impact on the national team (which is what a few others obviously focus on or at least see as a major tick).

2nd point no quite the opposite. I think you're all after slightly different (or radically different) things but there seems to be a temptation to view it as there is a single goal. Maybe that's just my view on the dicussion. But again that's why I've asked the direct question to LD and RF in particular as Risca, yourself and Mikey have to me explained more clearly in fewer posts! And your last point I think to me points to the how but not why again. If for instance LD wants a strong national team to come from this, his proposal is awful; if it was that he wants more history shared culture etc it's a good one. Hope that makes sense.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:30 pm

The Oracle wrote:Lord Dowlais wants a return to a 8-10 club all welsh top division.

Almost there for me Oracle.

Yes I want that league, but I also want to keep the regions, and have an end of year regional competition where the best players playing for the clubs within their regions, then represent there region in a 4 team regional group home and away, top two qualify for the top tier in Europe, the bottom two qualify for the second tier.

Then we keep the regions in Europe, and we have our best players duking it out keeping the standards of their elite rugby.

When they play for their clubs, they can pass on what they have to the players striving to get into the regional sides, then next the international side.

It's a pipe dream, I know, but we need to do something to rejuvenate life into the game in our country.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:34 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:If for instance LD wants a strong national team to come from this, his proposal is awful; if it was that he wants more history shared culture etc it's a good one. Hope that makes sense.

Why would my proposal, that I have explained again above, make for a weaker international side ?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:44 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:If for instance LD wants a strong national team to come from this, his proposal is awful; if it was that he wants more history shared culture etc it's a good one. Hope that makes sense.

Why would my proposal, that I have explained again above, make for a weaker international side ?

The competition is too varied/non existent for me. With the strength of the other sides you'd have the Dragons sticking 50 points on them without breaking a sweat. While there is a possibility that that could lead to well rested players champing at the bit to pull the Welsh shirt on I feel it would probably lead to a Saracens England situation where a lot of us England fans, if not all from memory on this board thought they didn't look match sharp on the whole.

The other less certain point I'd make around that is a point you touched upon in relation to tv money (and wider to advertising). If that dropped would the players stick around to play in that league or move elsewhere? That could lead to either WRU cutting off their nose and picking from the Welsh league or relaxing all those rules to pick from anywhere and then not having the same access to players.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:48 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
The Oracle wrote:Lord Dowlais wants a return to a 8-10 club all welsh top division.

Almost there for me Oracle.

Yes I want that league, but I also want to keep the regions, and have an end of year regional competition where the best players playing for the clubs within their regions, then represent there region in a 4 team regional group home and away, top two qualify for the top tier in Europe, the bottom two qualify for the second tier.

Then we keep the regions in Europe, and we have our best players duking it out keeping the standards of their elite rugby.

When they play for their clubs, they can pass on what they have to the players striving to get into the regional sides, then next the international side.

It's a pipe dream, I know, but we need to do something to rejuvenate  life into the game in our country.

Why should European competition save 2 places for Welsh regions when the Welsh teams are not playing in a league at the highest level?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:49 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
The Oracle wrote:Lord Dowlais wants a return to a 8-10 club all welsh top division.

Almost there for me Oracle.

Yes I want that league, but I also want to keep the regions, and have an end of year regional competition where the best players playing for the clubs within their regions, then represent there region in a 4 team regional group home and away, top two qualify for the top tier in Europe, the bottom two qualify for the second tier.

Then we keep the regions in Europe, and we have our best players duking it out keeping the standards of their elite rugby.

When they play for their clubs, they can pass on what they have to the players striving to get into the regional sides, then next the international side.

It's a pipe dream, I know, but we need to do something to rejuvenate  life into the game in our country.

Why should European competition save 2 places for Welsh regions when the Welsh teams are not playing in a league at the highest level?

It would have to be a new negotiation.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:55 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:The competition is too varied/non existent for me. With the strength of the other sides you'd have the Dragons sticking 50 points on them without breaking a sweat.

Dragons will not be playing the club sides though, they will be playing against other regions and teams from other leagues in Europe. Which in turn could generate more money for the WRU who would then distribute it through the league.

I do not think you have taken any notice of what I have proposed, and just made your own mind up, with what you think I want for some reason.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 1:56 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
The Oracle wrote:Lord Dowlais wants a return to a 8-10 club all welsh top division.

Almost there for me Oracle.

Yes I want that league, but I also want to keep the regions, and have an end of year regional competition where the best players playing for the clubs within their regions, then represent there region in a 4 team regional group home and away, top two qualify for the top tier in Europe, the bottom two qualify for the second tier.

Then we keep the regions in Europe, and we have our best players duking it out keeping the standards of their elite rugby.

When they play for their clubs, they can pass on what they have to the players striving to get into the regional sides, then next the international side.

It's a pipe dream, I know, but we need to do something to rejuvenate  life into the game in our country.

Why should European competition save 2 places for Welsh regions when the Welsh teams are not playing in a league at the highest level?

How many allocations do each league get ?

Having just two from Wales will still not be as much as other leagues.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:00 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:The competition is too varied/non existent for me. With the strength of the other sides you'd have the Dragons sticking 50 points on them without breaking a sweat.

Dragons will not be playing the club sides though, they will be playing against other regions and teams from other leagues in Europe. Which in turn could generate more money for the WRU who would then distribute it through the league.

I do not think you have taken any notice of what I have proposed, and just made your own mind up, with what you think I want for some reason.

I have read what you've said. Fear it's a bit of semantics there. If you take my point re playing club sides and replace with the 4 tradition URC teams and then the other 4-6 'regions' you want (so wording) then thats's my point. The vast majority of games will be at a lower level adn thus the Saracens England point.

The point on money as you acknowledged earlier is a bit of a guess, would funding of this all Welsh league match that of the URC, I'd say unlikely but it would seem that the 4 old URC teams would get less tv and advert money but obviously more teams likely to get a whole load more.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:13 pm

Hang on read the other comment again; am I right in saying that you want an 8 10 club side league which doesn't play the exisiting 4 teams from the URC but that those teams exist to play in Europe and call up from whichever clubs are deemed to align with them? Ie basically turns the 4 teams into scratch sides that don't play together bar Europe; have a got that right?

And the 4 regions won't play each year, you reckon it would be 2 each year in Europe then the 2 teams who may have played 3 times together during the year can play another 2 teams that haven't played once together at all to see who plays in Europe the next year?


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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:17 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:I have read what you've said. Fear it's a bit of semantics there. If you take my point re playing club sides and replace with the 4 tradition URC teams and then the other 4-6 'regions' you want (so wording) then thats's my point. The vast majority of games will be at a lower level adn thus the Saracens England point.

Sorry. But there is no semantics, and you are so wrong it is not even worth debating, it looks as though you are just looking for something.

For the life of me I do not know why, but I will try and explain again.

We have a 8-10 team Welsh top league. ALL the players play in said league. At the end of the season, the best performing players then represent their region. The regions then play each other home and away, in a different competition, the top two play in Europe top tier, the bottom two play in the bottom tier.

During the season, the clubs release the players to play for their regions in Europe.

Now, to offset the loss in TV money, of which they will still generate some, perhaps travelling fans, and the regional comp at the end of the season can make up for it.

The best players who are playing for their regions, then get picked to play for Wales, and perhaps the odd bolter can come from someone outside of the regions, like we see for the Lions. That last bit I just added for nostalgia.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:26 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:I have read what you've said. Fear it's a bit of semantics there. If you take my point re playing club sides and replace with the 4 tradition URC teams and then the other 4-6 'regions' you want (so wording) then thats's my point. The vast majority of games will be at a lower level adn thus the Saracens England point.

Sorry. But there is no semantics, and you are so wrong it is not even worth debating, it looks as though you are just looking for something.

For the life of me I do not know why, but I will try and explain again.

We have a 8-10 team Welsh top league. ALL the players play in said league. At the end of the season, the best performing players then represent their region. The regions then play each other home and away, in a different competition, the top two play in Europe top tier, the bottom two play in the bottom tier.

During the season, the clubs release the players to play for their regions in Europe.

Now, to offset the loss in TV money, of which they will still generate some, perhaps travelling fans, and the regional comp at the end of the season can make up for it.

The best players who are playing for their regions, then get picked to play for Wales, and perhaps the odd bolter can come from someone outside of the regions, like we see for the Lions. That last bit I just added for nostalgia.

Apologies, I did misunderstand from your original post. It is the scratch sides proposal. I would imagine that would lead to huge losses for the regions in Europe. The players would though spend the majority of their games playing against players of lesser standing that they do now, surely you'd concede that? You would lose playing against Leinster, Munster the SA and have to pad that out with lesser players? Playing at that level does bring players down, we've seen that with Saracens. You get better playing better players. Also any of the foreign players playing for those regions, are they still there in your view? Are they happy to play against the clubs for much of the season with the hope of getting picked for the region, and the risk 2 of them wouldn't play in Europe (or at least the comp people generally care about)?

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:35 pm

Very seldom do you see the better players playing in the league as it stands anyway. I cannot for the life of me remember the last time a saw someone like Johnny Sexton rock up at Rodney parade, or Parc Y Scarlets in the league, the do however in Europe.

I would take the drop in standards initially, but for me we would soon start seeing a massive rise in standards as things got going.

Also as for the regions getting tonked in Europe, what is the difference ? They seldom win away from home, and a home win is not a given in the top tier anyway.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:42 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:and the risk 2 of them wouldn't play in Europe (or at least the comp people generally care about)?

What, you do not think people in the URC care about it ? Do you think they prioritise Europe over the league ?

Or are you just talking about Europe ?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:43 pm

You're saying with a straight face that Wales will start producing players to the standard of the URC across potentially 10 teams 'soon' given this format? I mean sorry, no, that's not going to happen be serious. I would suggest that scratch sides in Europe would be a huge issue too. And the question mark on the regions foreign players.

So to bring it back to the original point, if that's the idea to improve the national team, no it's not great. If it's because the fans of the current Welsh Prem still get to watch their teams but potentially see more international stars, get more money they do now, perhaps appear on tv it's a load of ticks. Not great for the fans of the regions though who now see net to no rugby and when they do they're a scratch side.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:44 pm

OK, we will have to agree to disagree.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:46 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:and the risk 2 of them wouldn't play in Europe (or at least the comp people generally care about)?

What, you do not think people in the URC care about it ? Do you think they prioritise Europe over the league ?

Or are you just talking about Europe ?

I think teams will prioritise based on their inidividual circumstances. Some go out to win both, some down the bottom will see Europe as respite, some mid table could be a toss up.

Re the second question it was to the foreign players attracted to play for the 4 URC sides, would they happily play in the rejigged Welsh league and potentially not even get picked by the regions.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu Apr 28, 2022 2:48 pm

LordDowlais wrote:OK, we will have to agree to disagree.

I guess we will! admirable confidence that the only thing holding back the players in the Welsh prem is a few games on tv playing some of the Dragons stars though!

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Post by Brendan Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:03 pm

Interesting discussion.  It seems like the reverse of what the Irish did.  All the players had their AIL team and then got together for the provincial games that didn't get great crowds.  Most of the best players went to England.

It was only when the Provincial games became number one that those teams started filling their bandwagon.

To believe that a Welsh Prem would not go the way the AIL was going  with no money and the best players gone aboard and then they have no ability to go professional.

I think the Women's rugby is a great lesson for people who think having professionals playing amateurs help anyone, and how much of a difference full time environment makes compared to a few elite camps here and there.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri Apr 29, 2022 7:33 am

LordDowlais wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
The Oracle wrote:Lord Dowlais wants a return to a 8-10 club all welsh top division.

Almost there for me Oracle.

Yes I want that league, but I also want to keep the regions, and have an end of year regional competition where the best players playing for the clubs within their regions, then represent there region in a 4 team regional group home and away, top two qualify for the top tier in Europe, the bottom two qualify for the second tier.

Then we keep the regions in Europe, and we have our best players duking it out keeping the standards of their elite rugby.

When they play for their clubs, they can pass on what they have to the players striving to get into the regional sides, then next the international side.

It's a pipe dream, I know, but we need to do something to rejuvenate  life into the game in our country.

Why should European competition save 2 places for Welsh regions when the Welsh teams are not playing in a league at the highest level?

How many allocations do each league get ?

Having just two from Wales will still not be as much as other leagues.

From your proposal the Regions will not be playing in a league.
They will be scratch sides put together at the end of the season from the Welsh league teams.
If the Welsh teams want to fight for the right to play European rugby it would should come from the newly formed 8/10 league being proposed.
However the standard of that league almost certainly not be good enough.

Take this years URC if selection was on rugby results we almost certainly have no Welsh teams in next years Heineken Cup.

The only national league with guaranteed entry are the big boys France and England.

If Italy dropped out of the URC should they be guaranteed two entries as well?

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Post by LordDowlais Fri Apr 29, 2022 9:25 am

geoff999rugby wrote:They will be scratch sides put together at the end of the season from the Welsh league teams.

Would they be scratch sides though ? They would be playing in Europe throughout the season. Also, do you consider international sides "scratch sides" ?

geoff999rugby wrote:If Italy dropped out of the URC should they be guaranteed two entries as well?

Whos saying anything about Italy dropping out ? They can stay in the URC.

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Post by Brendan Fri Apr 29, 2022 9:54 am

Realistically for the next 10 years the champions Cup is between the three big European leagues, T14, URC and Prem.  Leagues/competitions like The Russian, Romanian or Spain leagues don't get any entries and the European Super Cup which is effectively becoming the 4th European league does not currently have any spots.  WRU does not have any automatic spots in the European Cups, the URC will not give up their 8 spots and we aren't going to 26 teams.

As Geoff says to believe that the Regions automatically get spots is pie in the sky.  Additional teams will probably be added to the Challage Cup most likely to bring up numbers if it brings in money.  Maybe the Regions could be there but would get rubbish rankings.

It's my option that we will see 48 teams in Europe with 2 competitions of 24.  Challange Cup will have 8 URC, 6 T14 and 5/6 Prem.  That leaves 4-5 spots which can be filled via the Super Cup (this gives the top T2 teams 12 top games per season (8 in Super, 4 in Challange).  URC would be ranked 1-8, T14 1-6, Prem 1-5/6, Super Cup would then get ranks 7-8 for T14 and 6/7-8 for Prem.  As the Welsh Regions would be following the model of the of the nation's in the Super Cup so would make sense for them to go in there.

The other thing over looked is the assumption that the URC would go to 12 teams rather than stay at 16.  We don't know if that would be the case.  If Argentina and WR came to the league and paid an entry fee for a few years and was funded like in SR would they be turned away.  Same with the 3 professional SA teams that would love to be in the URC.

If Wales left the structures they are in at Regional level I think other nations would move on.  NZRU discovered what happens when you leave international competitions to focus on the domestic, you lose the good you had and end up with something you don't want that is worse than before.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri Apr 29, 2022 9:55 am

LordDowlais wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:They will be scratch sides put together at the end of the season from the Welsh league teams.

Would they be scratch sides though ? They would be playing in Europe throughout the season. Also, do you consider international sides "scratch sides" ?

geoff999rugby wrote:If Italy dropped out of the URC should they be guaranteed two entries as well?

Whos saying anything about Italy dropping out ? They can stay in the URC.

In comparison to squads who play together week in week out, yes it would be scratch who could potentially play together 6 times in a season and have no where near the training time as the rest. International sides all get roughly the same time together. A notable exception relatively recently was Japan in their world cup where it was noted by may commentators as to how cohesive they looked and widely regarded as more than the sum of their parts.

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Post by Brendan Fri Apr 29, 2022 10:03 am

LordDowlais wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:They will be scratch sides put together at the end of the season from the Welsh league teams.

Would they be scratch sides though ? They would be playing in Europe throughout the season. Also, do you consider international sides "scratch sides" ?

geoff999rugby wrote:If Italy dropped out of the URC should they be guaranteed two entries as well?

Whos saying anything about Italy dropping out ? They can stay in the URC.

Essentially they will be following the example of the Romanians who entered the Bucharest Wolves. If the team is only getting together the week before a game they are a scratch side. Also who would pay the coaches of the Regions for the few games or would it be Prem managers.

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