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URC 23/24 Round 1

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carpet baboon
thebandwagonsociety
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URC 23/24 Round 1 - Page 2 Empty URC 23/24 Round 1

Post by neilthom7 Mon 16 Oct 2023, 9:11 pm

First topic message reminder :

The World Cup may still be on but the URC is back this weekend to get rolling again. With 16 teams once again full of the hope a new season brings. Will an Irish side lift it again? Will South Africa reclaim it? Will Wales, Italy or Scotland find a championship winner? Well it's time to get started finding out.

Saturday 21st October 2023

Zebre Parma v Ulster
Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma – KO 13.00 IRE & UK / 14.00 ITA & SA
Live on: Sky Italy, Viaplay, SuperSport, Flo Sports & URC TV

Connacht v Ospreys
The Sportsground, Galway – KO 15.00 IRE & UK / 16.00 ITA & SA
Live on: TG4, S4C, Viaplay, SuperSport, Flo Sports & URC TV

Emirates Lions v DHL Stormers
Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg – KO 15.05 IRE & UK / 16.05 ITA & SA
Live on: SuperSport, Viaplay, Flo Sports & URC TV

Dragons RFC v Edinburgh Rugby
Rodney Parade, Newport – KO 15.05 IRE & UK / 16.05 ITA & SA
Live on: Viaplay, SuperSport, Flo Sports & URC TV

Cardiff Rugby v Benetton
Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff – KO 17.15 IRE & UK / 18.15 ITA & SA
Live on: S4C, Viaplay, SuperSport, Flo Sports & URC TV

Munster v Hollywoodbets Sharks
Thomond Park, Limerick – KO 17.15 IRE & UK / 18.15 ITA & SA
Live on: TG4, SuperSport, Viaplay, Flo Sports & URC TV

Sunday, 22nd October 2023

Vodacom Bulls v Scarlets
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria – KO 14.00 IRE & UK / 15.00 ITA & SA
Live on: SuperSport, BBC Wales, Viaplay, Flo Sports & URC TV

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster
Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow – KO 16.00 IRE & UK / 17.00 ITA & SA
Live on: Viaplay RTÉ, SuperSport, Flo Sports & URC TV

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Post by mikey_dragon Sun 22 Oct 2023, 7:00 pm

Good signs for the Bulls, wonder if they’ll travel better this year? Very bad signs for Scarlets. Plumtree looks good.

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Post by Oakdene Mon 23 Oct 2023, 11:19 am

Christ we were dire yesterday against the Bulls.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Mon 23 Oct 2023, 11:29 am

Extending Gatland's contract just smacks of the WRU wanting him to cover the cracks of the entire setup. That isn't going to happen unfortunately.

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Post by TAFKA The Oracle Mon 23 Oct 2023, 12:49 pm

LeinsterFan4life wrote:Extending Gatland's contract just smacks of the WRU wanting him to cover the cracks of the entire setup. That isn't going to happen unfortunately.

I mean, it’s not like that’s all they’ve done is it? I’m no WRU apologist, and have been highly critical of them over the years. But recently they’ve:

- Moved to sack Pivac when it clearly wasn’t working.
- Brought back Gatland - bearing in mind where we were, getting out of our group at the WC has to be seen as some progress. The rugby we played was much better, if not world beating.
- Made changes at the top - brought in new people to the board, independent chair, etc. People with good track records in business, whereas we had ‘jobs for the boys’ ex players in senior business roles (e.g. Ieuan Evans who has made way as chairman). More changes on the way too.
- Gone to EGM (clubs) and voted through by 97% modernising reform. This puts us in the driving seat to finally split the pro and community games, something that’s been holding us back for years. No mean feat considering it involved the pro clubs essentially as ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’.
- Progressing with the new elite 2nd tier below the regions to try to bridge the game between the pro and community game. Very difficult given the political landscape but should be in place for 2024/25 I believe. Applications open for a licence to be one of the 8-10 teams.
- Worked with WRU Dragons and potential backers to get them back into private ownership. Now agreed and Dragons have the same status as the other 3. Whether you agree with private vs national governing body ownership of sports teams, having 3 of one and 1 of another was a distraction and something the WRU needed to spend money from the game on. It’s now a more level playing field, and Dragons are now more in control of their own destiny and ability to develop more commercially.
- Agreed a new 6 year deal with the regions and a renewed relationship. The talk is all of working together rather than in competition.

I’m sure there are bits I’ve missed. This is just off the top of my head. So it’s more than just bringing back Gatland. He does seem to suit us well, for whatever reason. I’ve read so many stories from players of the happy camp he’s created. He’s overseen a return to a really good environment. Maybe we’ll never be worldies under him, but it seems like he’s able to get more out of Wales than the sum of our parts, so why not go back to him?

The main issue of course is funding. If we could get £15m per team then I’m sure we’d be a lot better on the pitch. Why wouldn’t we be? But we’re now at £5m per team, reducing to £4.5m next year I believe? That’s ultimately what will determine our performance on the pitch in the URC. But we’ve had a reset and changes are happening at all levels - community game (payments to clubs reducing), semi-pro (new elite tier), regions, WRU board, Team Wales, etc. We/WRU are not just doing nothing.


Last edited by TAFKA The Oracle on Mon 23 Oct 2023, 1:15 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Mon 23 Oct 2023, 1:07 pm

8 games in week 1, 4 home wins, 4 away wins.
Nice.
Only the scots had a clean sweep (cough, 2 wins). 2-0
Leinster broke the chance for the Irish. 3-1
Sharks/Lions killed the chance for the Saffers (and two of them played each other too, so impossible feat really) 2-2
Zebre were close but lost so Italians were 1-1.

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Post by mikey_dragon Tue 24 Oct 2023, 9:48 am

Oakdene wrote:Christ we were dire yesterday against the Bulls.

Yeah I just got around to watching some of it. Just steamrolled up front but I'm sure this Bulls team will be doing that to many others. Even their backs were steam-rolling.

McNicholl had a terrible game. I'm sure he'll get better, but Hardy and Rogers were very concerning again. There's absolutely no control from 9. No speed, poor passing and kicking, and more crabbing sideways and then getting intercepted or smashed. I actually feel bad for Rogers every time I watch him try and attempt a tackle, it's the worst I've ever seen. Scarlets will be bottom of the league this season if those two are starters.

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Post by mikey_dragon Tue 24 Oct 2023, 9:49 am

LeinsterFan4life wrote:Extending Gatland's contract just smacks of the WRU wanting him to cover the cracks of the entire setup. That isn't going to happen unfortunately.

That's also the impression I'm beginning to have. I think all the Welsh Regions will lose more support this year, the future looks bleak.

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Post by Welshmushroom Tue 24 Oct 2023, 10:03 pm

To be fair some of this isn't totally down to the WRU. Part of the issue regions are facing at the moment comes down to mismanagement of funds and planning for the future.

At least with the cut in funds they are now having to be forced to develop youngsters for pro rugby which was long overdue as most of our senior players are now on the decline. They also haven't been brutal enough in sporting terms to move players who have had 2 or 3 seasons at URC level and are not good enough.

The point is even on a 5 million budget were not on par with teams from other nations with either similar or lesser playing budgets. And I dont accept at youth level we dont have the talent in Wales. What we seriously lack is pathways to pro to let them shine and physically develop.

For example the decision to create this 10 team tier sat between the regions and Premiership just wasnt well thought out. What should have happened is that it should have been a 8 team U23 league with former players/ new coaches as a true semi professional development ground. That would have provided a platform for Wales U20 players to get gametime in a competition with players a couple of years ahead of them, without them getting battered by seasoned pros. That is a thing the WRU have been short sighted in that regard.

But I don't accept the regions don't have to shoulder some of the blame over their past choices. Even when those sides spent more than some of the league counterparts they still got outperformed by some of them. Money is not the great equalizer. Knowing how to spend it for success plays a big part in it.

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Post by mikey_dragon Wed 25 Oct 2023, 9:59 am

I don't disagree with any of that WM. I just don't think the young players are there... well, some are there but not enough of them. You can also point the finger at the WRU there to an extent, for not improving the academies when they were clearly on their way down, they just continued to give jobs to their mates and keep heads in the sand. I also think the Regions really struggle to develop front 5 players compared to everyone else and as a result, a few have just disappeared.

I think all 4 regions have their share of players who aren't good enough for pro rugby, and we aren't moving them on. And even with the new premiership now, some of the teams are beginning to rebel.

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