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The Welsh Regions and the URC

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Post by LordDowlais Thu 14 Apr 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 RiscaGame Wed 25 May 2022, 4:36 pm

LordDowlais wrote:There are more international standard players at the Dragons than ever, yet they are still the worst of the 4.

Such as? Why have they basically ripped up their squad then?

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Post by LordDowlais Wed 25 May 2022, 4:41 pm

RugbyFan100 wrote:This is all down to money. Everything is down to money.

It isn't though. If the regions were given 100 million a year, they way they are managed, they would still under perform.

All the money in the world does not stop a player falling off tackles, missing kicks at goal, dropping the ball, getting turned over.

The regions are being seriously mismanaged, yes money would help, but it is not the singular problem. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you will be able to accept the failings.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Wed 25 May 2022, 4:44 pm

LordDowlais wrote:

All the money in the world does not stop a player falling off tackles, missing kicks at goal, dropping the ball, getting turned over.

It really does.

Because that extra money can be spent on a quality player on the bench that the coach can trust to bring on when fatigue sets in and his players fall off tackles. Like they have at Leinster. Or that extra money can be spent on world class coaches to coach the players to be better positionally aware. Like they do at Leinster.

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed 25 May 2022, 6:17 pm

RugbyFan100 wrote:No Mikey, I'm a Scarlets fan and Scarlets season ticket holder.

Ah right, bit odd you going out of your way to try and flatter them. For a lot of games they've been poor and underperformed.

RugbyFan100 wrote:The Scarlets should have won the shield this year and qualified for Europe, they have a better and more expensive squad than the Ospreys, so in that sense they have been below par and disappointing. Having said that the Oakwell report says they are funded at the Scarlets level because of North and AWJ but I've not read it. The Ospreys playing squad this season has not been as strong as the Scarlets, yet they've out-performed the Scarlets.

Is that all Scarlets should have done? I mean, they at least could not have been embarrassed in France, and embarrassed at home by Munster 2nd's. On paper Scarlets do seem to have a better squad than Ospreys. Both have underperformed though. You've gone out of your way to draw comparisons and some are quite close, yet only one has underperformed in your opinion and not by much seeing as you're happy with the bottom half of the table. A strange way of looking at it.

RugbyFan100 wrote:We all agree they are mediocre. Yet you think they should be performing beyond their mediocrity. I have pointed out to you that this is unrealistic, but you still seem unable to grasp why.

Yes, of course Ospreys should play above mediocrity with the players they have. It's not an unrealistic view. I just haven't accepted your opinion, you seem to be losing your mind over it. You can't agree to disagree, it's almost like you got to lose sleep until I agree with every word you say.

RugbyFan100 wrote:In hindsight it was foolish of me to try and give a layman example of a concept you're having difficulty understanding. I thought it would ease the burden on your thinking but clearly not.

If it's your way of saying Ospreys should be in the bottom half then you're right, it is completely lost on me and still is the more I think about it. Still giving it the big man on the internet hey? Brave.

RugbyFan100 wrote:Still no meat on the bones. I'm here to answer any questions if you find them

Ah okay go back and look then. You think you're highly analytical obviously, going by the astuteness of the 'comparisons' in this post. You'll have a lot of example to choose from mind, spoilt for choice some might say.

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed 25 May 2022, 6:22 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:I'll say again, Ospreys and also Scarlets are playing below the sum of their parts. I think both should be doing better. There is no way to prove I am wrong here, yet you keep repeating yourself.

Why Just Ospreys and Scarlets ?

All 4 regions are playing below the sum of their parts, and that includes your beloved Dragons. There are more international standard players at the Dragons than ever, yet they are still the worst of the 4.

I agree that all 4 underperform but especially those two. You get a similar calibre team in England or Ireland and they do a whole lot better. I think you're trying to say we have more internationals now and I guess it's true. But some of them may not turn out to be good internationals. I believe next year we will have better players and can do better than equal our worst record of 2 wins.

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Post by Guest Wed 25 May 2022, 6:22 pm

I don't think a low quota on NWQ is the way forward either.  It just drives up the price of below par Welsh players.  It happened last time they brought in a quota.  All of a sudden the agents are rubbing their hands because teams are trying to recruit more Welsh players and, well, supply & demand and all that.  I agree with some sort of quota, but not ultra low like 2 per team.

On the college points Welsh Mushroom makes - we already have that don't we?  I watch it on S4C occasionally.  Or at least used to.  Not sure if it has been televised this season?  Coleg Sir Gar always look awesome!  Coleg Gwent, my local college, not always great but they did improve in the last few years.


Last edited by The Oracle on Wed 25 May 2022, 7:06 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed 25 May 2022, 6:25 pm

Old Man wrote:I believe a big budget such as Leinster has can help to build a squad with huge depth. However it isn't only about budget, it starts at systems in place to build depth and quality players, from school level all the way through academies etc.

Looking at the South African teams, they have by some margin the lowest budgets in the league. They are challenged more than anyone to retain top talent. Was it not for our schools systems we would not be able to compete.

So in other words, SA team do well until their players get nicked? We already knew that. Perhaps SA is an anomaly in that every year they can produce more higher quality players than anyone else, on par with NZ. I wouldn't go comparing us to SA but understand and appreciate what you're trying to say. Your lock and No.8 depth is unreal... add your front row stock to that after this year.

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed 25 May 2022, 6:28 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:This is all down to money. Everything is down to money.

It isn't though. If the regions were given 100 million a year, they way they are managed, they would still under perform.

All the money in the world does not stop a player falling off tackles, missing kicks at goal, dropping the ball, getting turned over.

The regions are being seriously mismanaged, yes money would help, but it is not the singular problem. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you will be able to accept the failings.

Correct, it is a bit ignorant to claim Leinster among others achieve what they do just with money. Money is vey helpful though. How do the Welsh teams get out of their current predicament? Probably with a lot of money, and a lot of hard work.

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Post by RiscaGame Wed 25 May 2022, 7:47 pm

This thread can have a break for a bit, so people can calm themselves down. There is no debate happening when people are having swipes at each other (childish and big man on the internet), or with other posters just using throwaway lines without substance and expecting their opinions just to be taken as gospel.

Stop accusing posters of being other posters too. RF100 isn’t Phil. The team he supports is irrelevant.


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Post by LordDowlais Thu 26 May 2022, 9:56 am

RiscaGame wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:There are more international standard players at the Dragons than ever, yet they are still the worst of the 4.

Such as? Why have they basically ripped up their squad then?

At one point, you arguably had the Welsh back row:-

Basham
Moriarty
Wainwright

Thats just for starters, you have Leon Brown as well off the top of my head. OK

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Post by LordDowlais Thu 26 May 2022, 9:58 am

The Oracle wrote:I don't think a low quota on NWQ is the way forward either.  It just drives up the price of below par Welsh players.  It happened last time they brought in a quota.  All of a sudden the agents are rubbing their hands because teams are trying to recruit more Welsh players and, well, supply & demand and all that.  I agree with some sort of quota, but not ultra low like 2 per team.

On the college points Welsh Mushroom makes - we already have that don't we?  I watch it on S4C occasionally.  Or at least used to.  Not sure if it has been televised this season?  Coleg Sir Gar always look awesome!  Coleg Gwent, my local college, not always great but they did improve in the last few years.

Yes Rygbi Pawb it was called.

https://www.facebook.com/RygbiPawbS4C/posts/956277534745492/

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Post by LordDowlais Thu 26 May 2022, 10:02 am

mikey_dragon wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:This is all down to money. Everything is down to money.

It isn't though. If the regions were given 100 million a year, they way they are managed, they would still under perform.

All the money in the world does not stop a player falling off tackles, missing kicks at goal, dropping the ball, getting turned over.

The regions are being seriously mismanaged, yes money would help, but it is not the singular problem. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you will be able to accept the failings.

Correct, it is a bit ignorant to claim Leinster among others achieve what they do just with money. Money is vey helpful though. How do the Welsh teams get out of their current predicament? Probably with a lot of money, and a lot of hard work.

Isn't Moriarty off this year ?

What is he earning a couple of 100K a year ? If so I would use that money to pay Gatland to come and coach the Dragons. I would rather pay him that, than a kings ransom to a player who is not even available for most of the year.

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Post by mikey_dragon Thu 26 May 2022, 10:19 am

LordDowlais wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:This is all down to money. Everything is down to money.

It isn't though. If the regions were given 100 million a year, they way they are managed, they would still under perform.

All the money in the world does not stop a player falling off tackles, missing kicks at goal, dropping the ball, getting turned over.

The regions are being seriously mismanaged, yes money would help, but it is not the singular problem. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you will be able to accept the failings.

Correct, it is a bit ignorant to claim Leinster among others achieve what they do just with money. Money is vey helpful though. How do the Welsh teams get out of their current predicament? Probably with a lot of money, and a lot of hard work.

Isn't Moriarty off this year ?

What is he earning a couple of 100K a year ? If so I would use that money to pay Gatland to come and coach the Dragons. I would rather pay him that, than a kings ransom to a player who is not even available for most of the year.

I don't think so.

It's something I mentioned as I thought it would be a good idea letting go of a back-row as we are well stocked there. We've brought in another one too (Lonsdale).

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 26 May 2022, 10:29 am

I agree to a large extent with Rugbyfan, money makes things massively easier. It's not the be all and end all, you can still have stacks of cash and fail but a lot of the times money spent will quite closely match performance. Infinite money and you can literally strengthen everywhere, scouting, academy, first team, facilities, increase community engagement better coaches. So LDs point of changing the route of money can be a good one. If you could move a guy like Moriarty out and get Gatland that would be a massive plus on Ryan. Could even be tempted seeing the way it seems to have gone south for him in NZ. Given that last point though it's important to see that a coach isn't the answer to all.

That approach doesn't work elsewhere either of course given the 80% funding of wages by the WRU where they probably wouldn't want to continue paying that money for an outside coach.

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Post by RiscaGame Thu 26 May 2022, 11:18 am

LordDowlais wrote:
RiscaGame wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:There are more international standard players at the Dragons than ever, yet they are still the worst of the 4.

Such as? Why have they basically ripped up their squad then?

At one point, you arguably had the Welsh back row:-

Basham
Moriarty
Wainwright

Thats just for starters, you have Leon Brown as well off the top of my head. OK

Three of those players have had pretty lengthy injuries, since the six nations/not long after it. That’s why our back row has been Keddie, Basham and Griffiths at the end of the season and our starting tighthead Doge and Coleman. So whilst I agree that Dragons have been very poor this season, despite (in theory) having a stronger squad than previously, we still end up having to play other players too often. Whilst Welsh international selection can be considered quite subjective, Dragons still always have the lowest representation, so realistically them being consistently worst out of the four isn’t a surprise. I probably wouldn’t expect them to get more than six league wins a season in any season.

It’s why in some ways, I agree with Ryan ripping the squad up. That way the squad (in theory) isn’t hindered by consistently finishing near the bottom of the league or how poor they tend to be away. The only issue is likely if they suffer injuries and how their squad could then look too small. But when our 4-6 internationals are away, there should in theory be better replacements and we have signed players with greater flexibility than being just second rows etc.

It’s why Dragons are reported to be making big changes to their coaching set up, albeit they are resigned to getting coaches with no real pedigree again. It’s easy to point at players like Moriarty (AWJ at Ospreys etc) and say we are paying them too much instead of coaching though, as maybe another way of looking at it is we are paying them market rate and if we start losing players like that, the league that Welsh supporters reportedly aren’t interested in, becomes less appealing again, as even our own stars will never be in it.


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Post by Guest Thu 26 May 2022, 11:52 am

It wasn't long ago that Welsh rugby fans were berating the Dragons for a lack of ambition in not trying to sign big name Wales players. When we signed Moriarty it was for a 'Kings Ransom' (TM LD!), but done with the intention of it having a knock on effect and leading to others signing, on the basis that signing for the Dragons did not mean your Wales chances were knocked (which was a feeling amongst fans and players a number of years ag). And it has worked because we now see a number of current and fringe Welsh players signing for Dragons in volumes not seen before.

But fast forward to now and we're berated for keeping hold of them! You can't win! Players who are a) Welsh, b) not international (so not away much) and c) are good enough to mix it with the top players in Europe, are like rocking horse sh**. Can anyone name such a player?! So you either sign international quality who you don't see much, or you sign not international quality who will play all season but are not the best standard of players (and hence you can't expect your team to compete at the top end of the leagues and cups), or you allow more foreign imports who themselves might be away with internationals. I can't see an other way? The answer surely is a blend of all 3 which the regions are doing, budgets permitting.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu 26 May 2022, 12:37 pm

The Oracle wrote:But fast forward to now and we're berated for keeping hold of them! You can't win!

Hang on, I am not berating anyone.

Somebody touched upon it earlier, I think it might have been you. About the Welsh quota or what ever it is, is driving the wages up and agents are rubbing their hands together and all that.

Things like this need to be looked at, as I think we are paying players too much. Especially when you see their performances week in week out.

Perhaps we should put players on a performance related pay scheme, if they hit certain targets per game, they get X amount of money in their pay packet.

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Post by Guest Thu 26 May 2022, 2:35 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
The Oracle wrote:But fast forward to now and we're berated for keeping hold of them! You can't win!

Hang on, I am not berating anyone.

Somebody touched upon it earlier, I think it might have been you. About the Welsh quota or what ever it is, is driving the wages up and agents are rubbing their hands together and all that.

Things like this need to be looked at, as I think we are paying players too much. Especially when you see their performances week in week out.

Perhaps we should put players on a performance related pay scheme, if they hit certain targets per game, they get X amount of money in their pay packet.

But how much is too much? I think Moriarty was on £500k to come home to the Dragons and it made him the highest paid player in Wales, but I believe that sum has dropped now. Yet look Biggar at Northampton and he's on even more (£600k apparently). And I bet he's not the highest paid player at Northampton. So we either pay market rate or we lose them. Force them home on half the salary they could earn elsewhere and they'd be silly to stay here. And then we just have teams of non-internationals. A hard sell for fans, investors, etc. And even worse than now probably in the leagues and cups.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu 26 May 2022, 2:41 pm

The Oracle wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
The Oracle wrote:But fast forward to now and we're berated for keeping hold of them! You can't win!

Hang on, I am not berating anyone.

Somebody touched upon it earlier, I think it might have been you. About the Welsh quota or what ever it is, is driving the wages up and agents are rubbing their hands together and all that.

Things like this need to be looked at, as I think we are paying players too much. Especially when you see their performances week in week out.

Perhaps we should put players on a performance related pay scheme, if they hit certain targets per game, they get X amount of money in their pay packet.

But how much is too much?  I think Moriarty was on £500k to come home to the Dragons and it made him the highest paid player in Wales, but I believe that sum has dropped now.  Yet look Biggar at Northampton and he's on even more (£600k apparently).  And I bet he's not the highest paid player at Northampton.  So we either pay market rate or we lose them.  Force them home on half the salary they could earn elsewhere and they'd be silly to stay here.  And then we just have teams of non-internationals.  A hard sell for fans, investors, etc.  And even worse than now probably in the leagues and cups.

OK I give in.

I don't know anymore. OK

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 26 May 2022, 2:58 pm

Another thing worth pointing out is Confidence also plays a massive part of rugby.

I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players. But the 2 things their players never lack is toughness and hunger to win.

Our hunger to win and play well is what I question at times at the Regions. It's almost as if they know their form at level makes no difference. Then throw in a couple of losses and the lack of confidence starts playing a big part of the issue.

One positive note to keep in mind is that while Scarlets and Ospreys finished outside the playoffs they did win 8 and 10 games respectfully and to be fair Leinster who have been head and shoulders only managed 13 wins. What has been clear is how important starting the season well has in terms of making the playoffs. Winning at home is almost a must now and even the you have to throw some extra results in away to make sure of a top 8 finish.

The good news from a Welsh Perspective is that South African sides will need to also deal with the process of all the extra European games next season and that will drain the resources. Granted some of them are bringing more players in so they can deal with this. But having 2 tournaments always causes most teams issues throughout a season.

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Post by LordDowlais Thu 26 May 2022, 4:06 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:Our hunger to win and play well is what I question at times at the Regions. It's almost as if they know their form at level makes no difference. Then throw in a couple of losses and the lack of confidence starts playing a big part of the issue.

Because there is no punishment for failure. If the regions are rubbish, who cares, they will still be doing the same thing next season regardless.

Welshmushroom wrote:I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players.

Yes, I agree, infact, I reckon we have more coming through at a younger age, it's just how they are managed, and coached when they are older.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 26 May 2022, 5:09 pm

So they need more money to either concentrate the best Welsh players into 1 side or more moneybto get better quality foreigner's in.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Thu 26 May 2022, 7:41 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:Our hunger to win and play well is what I question at times at the Regions. It's almost as if they know their form at level makes no difference. Then throw in a couple of losses and the lack of confidence starts playing a big part of the issue.

Because there is no punishment for failure. If the regions are rubbish, who cares, they will still be doing the same thing next season regardless.

Welshmushroom wrote:I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players.

Yes, I agree, infact, I reckon we have more coming through at a younger age, it's just how they are managed, and coached when they are older.
Ireland have lost something like two u20 games in the u20 6 nations since 2018, the game this year at u20 level was an absolute embarrassment for welsh rugby, the worst welsh side I've ever seen. I think you may have had a point a few years ago but not now. You guys are going through a massive slump (happens to everyone) and the position of the regions in the league doesn't lie in what was a year in which most teams were forced to give plenty of game time to younger squad players. However, it's swings and roundabouts, I fully expect the Welsh u20s to suddenly become a force again and for the regions to be challenging for top 8 spots in the URC. I really think it'll be quite soon too.

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Post by Guest Thu 26 May 2022, 8:49 pm

Yeah, gotta agree with Leinsterfan. l really don’t see that overall Wales is producing better players at the moment. And at the younger age? Based on what?!

But yes, I see the number of wins and there are some distant signs of encouragement. I think I read the other day that Ospreys in 9th only lost 1 less game than Bulls in 4th and two less than Stormers and Ulster in 2nd and 3rd. Just fewer bonus points (only 6) than many of the teams above. It’s all ‘ifs and buts’ of course, and I’m not going to gloss over what has been a terrible season for the Welsh teams, but not a million miles away for some of them. Even Dragons, and I’ll get slated for saying it after they finished one from bottom, had 8 bonus points. So some close losses and some 4 try games. I remember a number where we were leading going into the last 10 mins or so. So again not a million miles away and if we work on composure we might be able to climb up a bit higher. But I’m not expecting them to finish top half of the league!

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 27 May 2022, 9:03 am

U20s results can be bit of a distraction tbf. It's lovely to get a team with a number of wins but realistically as with any age grade set up there are drop offs as the step up to seniors is made in terms of numbers. A lot of the time you're really looking for 2 or 3 gems. Of course if you're simply looking for padding to a lot of squads fair enough.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Fri 27 May 2022, 9:16 am

Welshmushroom wrote:

I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players.  

That is absolute nonsense. Leinster alone have a greater talent pool than the whole of Wales. Leinster 1sts all fresh, would give New Zealand a good game. Welsh rugby is rotten from the ground up due to lack of investment. As others have said - look at the age grade teams and see the difference.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 27 May 2022, 10:06 am

[quote="LordDowlais"]
Welshmushroom wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players.

Yes, I agree, infact, I reckon we have more coming through at a younger age, it's just how they are managed, and coached when they are older.

Based on what - certainly not results at aged grade rugby

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Post by mikey_dragon Fri 27 May 2022, 10:08 am

It might have been the case a few years ago, and even then we slipped to a defeat here and there against Ireland. It's certainly not the case now, Ireland are well ahead. Their youngsters are better, thier players are nurtutred better by the Provincial teams. Wales needed to desperately improve their U20s and what do they do, they hire Byron Hayward!

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 27 May 2022, 10:21 am

Piece from Michael Morrow of the BBC:


Amid a host of commercial aspirations, it was hoped the birth of the United Rugby Championship would give rise to a more competitive field in a league that had been badly struggling to catch the eye.

In the era of the Pro14, Leinster were its gift and curse; perennial winners whose bulldozing of other sides on their way to four-straight titles did nothing for the neutral, but the only genuinely elite side the league had on its roster.

The introduction of the four South African sides delivered on the promise of a more appealing product, with the battle for European spots and home play-off quarter-finals going down to the final weekend.

It didn't change everything, though.

"This year it took Leinster all the way to the second last game to get their normal spot at the top," laughed Ulster head coach Dan McFarland.

Top seed with the promise of home ties up to and including the final, should they reach it, was delivered without fuss. Leo Cullen's side continue to dominate the league like a side with the majority of the Ireland team in their squad perhaps ought to.

That's the thing though, Leinster's Ireland contingent didn't really play that much.

By and large they play a supporting role in the URC, and trust their team-mates to do the legwork. It's the European Champions Cup where their big guns come to the party, and they will be out in force in Marseille on Saturday.

Of the 13 Ireland internationals that started the province's semi-final dismantling of Toulouse, not one of them played in more than a third of their 18 league matches.

In fact, all of them played more international Test matches this season than they did league games, with the exception of James Lowe who played six of each.

So, the increased competition in the URC - which still concluded with Leinster reigning supreme - comes with the caveat that the best team rarely used their best players.

Last weekend academy scrum-half Ben Murphy came on against Munster to become the 60th player to play for Leinster this season.

Ben Murphy
Ben Murphy came off the bench in Leinster's win over Munster to become the province's 60th player used this season
That win over their inter-provincial rivals - who came to Dublin close to fully loaded with Joey Carbery, Conor Murray and Andrew Conway among their starters - was delivered by something between their second and third string team, and served as a reminder of their peerless depth.

It is conceivable that none of the 23-man squad who swept aside Munster, very much among the URC's 'best of the rest', will make the matchday squad for Saturday's Champions Cup final.

Jordan Larmour's twinkle-toed brilliance might have earned him a spot on the bench, but there don't seem to be too many more spots up for grabs.

Leinster's depth is such that they do not rotate, but swap out their entire team when the stakes get higher.

Plainly, the major benefit here is the freshness with which their players come into big games. In the dying throes of the season the province's biggest stars are unlikely to be suffering from fatigue.

Of those 13 internationals that started against Toulouse, only Josh van der Flier and Garry Ringrose have played more than 20 games for club and country since the season began in September.

Better still, when their biggest players play, they usually do so together. No other group of players who juggle international and club commitments enjoy the same level of year-round consistency regarding the players around them. Eddie Jones wasn't wrong when he bestowed the crown of world's most cohesive side onto Ireland.

Johnny Sexton
Johnny Sexton has not played a league match since October
Cultivating a squad so big that entirely different playing panels can fight for silverware on two fronts allows for careful workload management - crucial to the success of both the province and Ireland, but also to the longevity of the individual.

Experienced Ireland international Johnny Sexton, for example, now plays almost exclusively international Tests or European club rugby. He was handed his three league appearances at the start of the season, the last of which came on 16 October, so he could shake off any rust after a rare summer off.

With retirement on the horizon after next year's World Cup, Leinster and Ireland's aim is to maintain the best version of Sexton right up to his final game by capping the amount of minutes he plays over the course of the season but ensuring that when he does play, it is against elite opposition.

It's a set-up that has caught the eye of Sexton's once foe, now friend Ronan O'Gara - whose La Rochelle side stand between Leinster and a fifth European crown.

"Twelve months ago, Johnny probably wasn't playing as good as rugby as he is now," acknowledged O'Gara.

"First of all, he is a great competitor and he loves rugby. People forget that, rugby is such a great game so you play it for as long as you can."

If the aim is to be in a condition to play as long as possible at the highest level, there are surely few better landing spots than Leinster.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 27 May 2022, 10:24 am

We know Leinster are well above the rest but what we did have is 3 SA teams competing at the same level as
Munster and Ulster which has brought the overall level up significantly

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Post by mikey_dragon Fri 27 May 2022, 10:53 am

The Lions weren't bad either.

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Post by Guest Fri 27 May 2022, 10:58 am

I'm not one to knock Leinster like some, and i think what they've achieved is awesome and something we should all aspire to (although realistically probably cannot!). But just reading that - 60 players they've played this season! That's some squad size. Bringing it back to this thread, the Welsh regions are cutting their squad sizes for next season due to the budget constraints. Gonna be even tougher over a long campaign if playing against teams with squads that size and depth, although I appreciate I'm only comparing the Welsh teams to one other team. Not sure the squad size of the rest.

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Post by Recwatcher16 Fri 27 May 2022, 11:12 am

There are some astounding stats in that bbc article - the one that sticks out being 13 internationals have played more times for Ireland than Leinster.
That confirms what we all know that Leinster have become the test vehicle for the IRFU and are not an actual club.
Those players have played together and gained the experience of matching up against the all blacks - no club side can compete with that.
I also doubt there is any club in europe that uses 60 players in a season and with no salary cap and the province has a playing standard based on international experience, with one of the best test coaches around.
La Rochelle played a full on league match last weekend and have subsequently lost first team players to injury - Leinster had no need to and as usual will be pretty much at full roster.
This hasn't happened over night with Leinster and Cullen deserves some credit but they are now in a self perpetuating cycle which will be very difficult to break for the welsh and other irish sides. Pat Lam and now Van Graan pretty obviously have seen that.
The SA sides have been mentioned as challenging Leinster dominance, time will tell, but it certainly doesn't look like a welsh side will anytime soon and that is bad news for the URC.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 27 May 2022, 11:20 am

mikey_dragon wrote:The Lions weren't bad either.

Agreed

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 27 May 2022, 11:26 am

Recwatcher16 wrote:
That confirms what we all know that Leinster have become the test vehicle for the IRFU and are not an actual club.

La Rochelle played a full on league match last weekend and have subsequently lost first team players to injury - Leinster had no need to and as usual will be pretty much at full roster.

The SA sides have been mentioned as challenging Leinster dominance, time will tell, but it certainly doesn't look like a welsh side will anytime soon and that is bad news for the URC.

1. That is false, if other provinces improve they wil lget more CC and a better financial situation. The huge benefit Leinster have is fully professional coaches at schools and clubs. Munster and Ulster do not have that.
The other huge benefit is Leinster have a higher number of Central Contracts

2. That is self inflicted by the French. The answer is simple stop playing 26 league games a year. the URC play 18

3. The SA teams have done very well adapting 3 of the top 5 is an excellent return. That is good news for the URC. As to Wales - no one else but the Welsh can sort out their own club/regional game

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 27 May 2022, 11:31 am

The Oracle wrote:Bringing it back to this thread, the Welsh regions are cutting their squad sizes for next season due to the budget constraints.  

Gonna be even tougher over a long campaign if playing against teams with squads that size and depth.

1. They are not alone - Ulster are in the same boat as are others

2. They wont be playing against other teams with squads that size and depth - they will be playing against a team (singular) with that depth of squad
Ulster for example have a squad of 42 for next year guaranteed (plus 2 uncertainties)

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 27 May 2022, 11:45 am

RugbyFan100 wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:

I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players.  

That is absolute nonsense. Leinster alone have a greater talent pool than the whole of Wales. Leinster 1sts all fresh, would give New Zealand a good game. Welsh rugby is rotten from the ground up due to lack of investment. As others have said - look at the age grade teams and see the difference.

Ireland have far better systems which prepare youngsters better for professional rugby. There are no structures in place in Wales. Regions Academies are poorly run and often result in players not being prepared for pro rugby.

But at a grass roots level I don't think Ireland can compare to Wales. Our playing numbers are higher. The issue were having is how we actually realize that potential. It's why we really need to look at the U19's in Wales and invest in proper structures there. The regional academies should then take the most talented and condition them for pro rugby. The U16 to U19 scene in Wales has no real structure in place. While I accept implementation would require funding its not actually as much as people think it would cost. The problem is if you give that funding to the Regional teams they will just spend it on their active squads and development of players is not really part of their mandate. Throwing money is not going to solve this problem. Look at the Scarlets for example. 400K just got spent on Fifita. Sure he's a good player. Will he address the fundamental problem we have throughout Wales in the second row position. No. Will he make Scarlets better upfront to allow them to be competitive. No because they have an entire problem in their front 8 to really compete so at the top of the URC. All that will happen is he will block the need to develop second rows to go on to play for Wales. There is a reason why some of our best young talent is leaving Wales to go to English Premiership to ply their trade as they know they have a better chance of development over their. How does it benefit Welsh Rugby if when you consider the Scarlets next season 6 out of 8 starting forward can't actually represent Wales?

Until we start looking a properly at how young player pathways should work and fund that part of the game properly, how will we ever compete with South Africa or Ireland where they have these pathways clearly established and invested in. I also don't think the Regions should have anything to do with that part of the development process. They should come in after that initial stage and take the top performing U19's and start conditioning them for Pro Rugby.




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Post by Recwatcher16 Fri 27 May 2022, 12:02 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:
That confirms what we all know that Leinster have become the test vehicle for the IRFU and are not an actual club.

La Rochelle played a full on league match last weekend and have subsequently lost first team players to injury - Leinster had no need to and as usual will be pretty much at full roster.

The SA sides have been mentioned as challenging Leinster dominance, time will tell, but it certainly doesn't look like a welsh side will anytime soon and that is bad news for the URC.

1. That is false, if other provinces improve they wil lget more CC and a better financial situation. The huge benefit Leinster have is fully professional coaches at schools and clubs. Munster and Ulster do not have that.
The other huge benefit is Leinster have a higher number of Central Contracts

2. That is self inflicted by the French. The answer is simple stop playing 26 league games a year. the URC play 18

3. The SA teams have done very well adapting 3 of the top 5 is an excellent return. That is good news for the URC. As to Wales - no one else but the Welsh can sort out their own club/regional game

With respect ;
1,what is false ?
2, it is the scale of the french and english leagues that creates the european competition in the first place.
3, Leinster still finished first in the league with games to spare and rarely using their first xv.

Perhaps my language could be considered emotive but factually the self perpetuating cycle Leinster have established is going to be very difficult to break down. Lancaster leaving might create a chink of light but the IRFU will probably bring in another coach with test experience to continue the cycle.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Fri 27 May 2022, 12:07 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:

I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players.  

That is absolute nonsense. Leinster alone have a greater talent pool than the whole of Wales. Leinster 1sts all fresh, would give New Zealand a good game. Welsh rugby is rotten from the ground up due to lack of investment. As others have said - look at the age grade teams and see the difference.

Ireland have far better systems which prepare youngsters better for professional rugby.  There are no structures in place in Wales.  Regions Academies are poorly run and often result in players not being prepared for pro rugby.


Exactly. There is not enough money to run academies on the scale needed to compete

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 27 May 2022, 12:18 pm

RugbyFan100 wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:
RugbyFan100 wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:

I honestly don't believe Ireland have a better talent pool of rugby players.  

That is absolute nonsense. Leinster alone have a greater talent pool than the whole of Wales. Leinster 1sts all fresh, would give New Zealand a good game. Welsh rugby is rotten from the ground up due to lack of investment. As others have said - look at the age grade teams and see the difference.

Ireland have far better systems which prepare youngsters better for professional rugby.  There are no structures in place in Wales.  Regions Academies are poorly run and often result in players not being prepared for pro rugby.


Exactly. There is not enough money to run academies on the scale needed to compete

I don't accept this premise. A 10 team league assuming you have 4 coaches at 25K per coach would cost 1 million per year to run approx. If you total the total paid by Regional Rugby to overseas players alone you could find this money. If the regions continue with this mentality that they will buy success by bringing in overseas players then they will never break the cycle.

It's all about how that money is used. As I have said before our Regional Game continues with the mindset that they can compete on the short term with spending money on stars right now when clearly everyone else in the league who has been successful has used a long term plan to get into those positions. Ireland are not importing, neither do South Africa. At some stage Regional rugby needs to stop trying to model itself on the English Premiership or Top 14 because we will never be able to compete with those spending models. So why try?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 27 May 2022, 12:40 pm

'Ireland' or their teams do import, or merely sign players from elsewhere. Of course they do. SA's teams well, there's a lack of money there to compete for anyone if a team from France etc want them too.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 27 May 2022, 12:48 pm

Recwatcher16 wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:
That confirms what we all know that Leinster have become the test vehicle for the IRFU and are not an actual club.

La Rochelle played a full on league match last weekend and have subsequently lost first team players to injury - Leinster had no need to and as usual will be pretty much at full roster.

The SA sides have been mentioned as challenging Leinster dominance, time will tell, but it certainly doesn't look like a welsh side will anytime soon and that is bad news for the URC.

1. That is false, if other provinces improve they wil lget more CC and a better financial situation. The huge benefit Leinster have is fully professional coaches at schools and clubs. Munster and Ulster do not have that.
The other huge benefit is Leinster have a higher number of Central Contracts

2. That is self inflicted by the French. The answer is simple stop playing 26 league games a year. the URC play 18

3. The SA teams have done very well adapting 3 of the top 5 is an excellent return. That is good news for the URC. As to Wales - no one else but the Welsh can sort out their own club/regional game

With respect ;
1,what is false ?
2, it is the scale of the french and english leagues that creates the european competition in the first place.
3, Leinster still finished first in the league with games to spare and rarely using their first xv.

Perhaps my language could be considered emotive but factually the self perpetuating cycle Leinster have established is going to be very difficult to break down. Lancaster leaving might create a chink of light but the IRFU will probably bring in another coach with test experience to continue the cycle.

1. The claim that 'That confirms what we all know that Leinster have become the test vehicle for the IRFU and are not an actual club.'
2. Firstly the Irish have had a lot to do with the European competition. Secondly the French could reduce to, say 22, games a year without damaging their contribution
3. As acknowledged Leinster are the best. They only wrapped up first place only on the 2nd from last week. They are riding a crest of success but it hasnt always been so.
One thing that should not be underestimated is Stuart Lancaster. The year he arrived and the two years before that Leinster won nothing
Since then they have been Guinness Champions 4 years in a row and European Champions once with this year looking good for both.
I dont think that is a coincidence.
Quality coaching is key.
As an aside he was on the Radio today - he is going nowhere when his contract is up - it was clear this is the most enjoyable job he has ever had

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 27 May 2022, 1:00 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:'Ireland' or their teams do import, or merely sign players from elsewhere. Of course they do. SA's teams well, there's a lack of money there to compete for anyone if a team from France etc want them too.

Ireland do bring in overseas players. But there are total restrictions in place and the IRFU sign off on all of them. Nobody is saying that on occasion you have to outsource some overseas players. But Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Connacht are only permitted 2 overseas players each that are not Eligible for Ireland. How many starting Irish teams in the URC season this year at overseas players in it. 21 players in every Irish side has been Irish qualified.

Welsh sides are nowhere near that stat currently.

Are you implying Leinster's success for example is not primarily achieved because they produce 99% of their talent through their own academies? I hardly think Alaalatoa has been such a key signing he will be the difference between them winning everything they play in currently. If anything they clearly show that success can be achieved by creating and promoting from within.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 27 May 2022, 1:04 pm

No, just correcting that they don't bring in from elsewhere. There are a shedload of reasons why they are currently the best in the league.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 27 May 2022, 1:13 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:No, just correcting that they don't bring in from elsewhere. There are a shedload of reasons why they are currently the best in the league.

And my point is there are a shedload of reason why Welsh Regions are unsuccessful. Money is only one part of a massive list of things. Therefore the solution for Welsh Rugby can't be fixed by money.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 27 May 2022, 1:19 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:No, just correcting that they don't bring in from elsewhere. There are a shedload of reasons why they are currently the best in the league.

And my point is there are a shedload of reason why Welsh Regions are unsuccessful.  Money is only one part of a massive list of things.  Therefore the solution for Welsh Rugby can't be fixed by money.  

Well yes and no as money can correct about 99% of those things.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 27 May 2022, 1:25 pm

99% of Welsh problems in Welsh Rugby are relate to decision making and alignment. Money won't fix that. But money is the narrative that everyone is pushing so people don't actually look at the first part.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 27 May 2022, 1:27 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:99% of Welsh problems in Welsh Rugby are relate to decision making and alignment.  Money won't fix that. But money is the narrative that everyone is pushing so people don't actually look at the first part.

Offer a magnificent wage and bonus structure and you shall have better governance.

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Post by RugbyFan100 Fri 27 May 2022, 1:30 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:

I don't accept this premise.  A 10 team league assuming you have 4 coaches at 25K per coach would cost 1 million per year to run approx.  If you total the total paid by Regional Rugby to overseas players alone you could find this money.  If the regions continue with this mentality that they will buy success by bringing in overseas players then they will never break the cycle.  

It's all about how that money is used.  As I have said before our Regional Game continues with the mindset that they can compete on the short term with spending money on stars right now when clearly everyone else in the league who has been successful has used a long term plan to get into those positions.  Ireland are not importing, neither do South Africa.  At some stage Regional rugby needs to stop trying to model itself on the English Premiership or Top 14 because we will never be able to compete with those spending models.  So why try?

The English salary cap is lower than the highest spending region! Read the article above..Leinster keep all their best players. That's why they are so good. If the Scarlets were Leinster, they would have kept Rob Evans, Tomi Lewis, Wil Boyde, Angus O'Brien, Liam Williams, Tom Phillips and all the other players that have left in the last 5 years and they'd have a depth of quality. But the money isn't there to. So they don't.

I don't really understand your first paragraph. I think you're basically saying that the regions should reduce the quality of their playing squads and put the money into the academy and lower tier rugby instead? Bit of a gamble. They would then be losing every single game for the next few seasons on a whim that in 5 years time some better coached youngsters might turn up. Not a great business model when they are desperate for fans to be buying into regional rugby.

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Post by Guest Fri 27 May 2022, 1:31 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:99% of Welsh problems in Welsh Rugby are relate to decision making and alignment.  Money won't fix that. But money is the narrative that everyone is pushing so people don't actually look at the first part.

Offer a magnificent wage and bonus structure and you shall have better governance.

Are you serious?! Not in Welsh rugby! You could pay the guys at the top £1 million each but the clubs could still down vote them, or just call an EGM and get them removed. The clubs have to agree all the governance stuff.

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