Thursday, 27 December 2012

2013: Welsh Regional Rugby


This year saw a Welsh  Grand Slam followed by a disappointing Australian Tour affected by the unpreventable absence of coach Warren Gatland followed by a disastrous series of Autumn International affected by the unnecessary absence  of Gatland on "Lions" duties.

The main disappointment was the failure once again of the four regions in Europe  and lurch from crisis to crisis

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis has hinted that one of Wales' four regional sides could be downgraded to a development operation as part of drastic measures aimed at securing the future of Welsh rugby. the move as part of his plan to shore up the professional game with his words set to cause concern at the Blues, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets who rely heavily on the financial support currently offered by the governing body
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In addition, European funding could be restricted to just two teams a season while the regions could come under increasing control of the WRU with coaching appointments and recruitment controlled by the union.

I suspect that Lewis is pointing to the most drastic scenario if the regions do not get their act together as well as cooperate with the WRU.

The formation of the regions was always going to be problematic, The Irish Regions consist of the four provinces and already had a strong identity.

Originally five regions the Bridged- Pontypridd combination of the Celtic Warriors collapsed in the second season adding to the resentment particularly among Pontypridd, supporters who had never really warmed to the Warriors and many refused point blank to consider supporting their in -corporation into the Cardiff Blues region.

Ironically, this may have benefited Ponty as they kept their fan base and have not followed Pontypool, Cross Key and Bridgend into a struggle for survival,

The Pontypridd MP Owen Smith has led a campaign for Pontypridd RFC to become the centre of a  fifth "Valleys" region but whilst this may go down well with his constituents with Wales seemingly unable to support four  regions it is unlikely to se any light of day at least for now.

It may well be that the Dragons will become a development region like  Connacht which means that it would receives only half the budget of the other regional teams teams. But if this is a case they maybe they should consider offering Sports Scholarships to youth players from developing European Nations . Russia Georgia Spain  for example . There are probably a huge amount of Talent going to waste there and simply looking at some seven players may be worth while. But forming links with clubs in Europe and viewing younger footballs.

Perhaps the major innovation should be in developing the Premiership to consist of 16 temas consisting of sides from each region .

There would be no promotion-demotion but at the end of the season each club would be reviewed and could face being replaced by another side from the Championship league.

Its clear something that need developing before its taken seriously ( or at all), but it could be a means of increasing the player base for the Regions and ultimately the full Welsh National side.

What is clear we can't carry on like this.

Still
 [Smile] keep calm and win the grand slam!





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