Thursday, 7 March 2019

The WRU are not an example for Welsh Independence.

Let's face it if the Welsh Rugby Union was given as example of how Wales would be run after Independence, then even the most die hard of us would perhaps think more than twice!

Apart from its  constant  sycophantic attitude to the English Royal Family and its poor  attitude to the use of the Welsh Language its actual runing of the game  has been dire.

Their latest wheeze "Project Reset" in which they propose that Scarlets and Osprey the two most successful regions should merge and a new "North" Wales Region be formed leaving Cardiff and the Gwent Dragons the latter nearly always struggling on the field to continue was  met with derision by suppoters.

It's a complex story with accusations flying left right and centre. but this is from BBC Wales.

Scarlets say the proposed merger with Ospreys is "off the table".It follows a similar statement by Ospreys on Tuesday confirming deadlock on the proposed plan to reorganise Welsh domestic rugby.As part of Project Reset the rival regions were expected to merge, with a new team created in the north of Wales.Scarlets claim Ospreys approached them over a potential merger in December 2018 and that the proposal was set to come into force, until Ospreys withdrew at a meeting of the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) on 5 March."Heads of terms were agreed and signed by the Ospreys and Scarlets on 1 March on terms we believe our supporters would be happy with," Scarlets said in a statement."This was to be proposed at a meeting of the PRB on Tuesday afternoon, but we were told at the start of that meeting that the Ospreys had changed their mind."The merger is off the table."Ospreys chairman Mike James announced his resignation on Tuesday, with the region calling for a complete rethink of the process."The instability created by PRB's chaotic approach to its own imposed restructuring criteria has been the height of recklessness at its worst, and incompetent management at its best," the Ospreys statement said.The discussions between the WRU and regions have been dubbed Project Reset. Previous proposals had included merging Ospreys and Cardiff Blues, but those plans fell through.Wales hooker Scott Baldwin says the Ospreys directors have told the players the future of the region is guaranteed.Ospreys and Scarlets are fierce rivals, and have been the most consistently successful of the Welsh regions since their creation in 2003 - having won the domestic league six times between them.The other two regions, Dragons and Cardiff Blues, have never won the title.The Scarlets statement claims Ospreys instigated the merger talks, and it was their suggestion that led to the proposal for a region in North Wales."In late December, the Scarlets received a high-level approach from the Ospreys to explore the option of a merger as they had come to the conclusion that their position as tenants at the Liberty Stadium was proving to be challenging," the statement continued."This was discussed at the two-day strategy meeting of PRB on 8 and 9 January."The loss of a region would have put Welsh rugby in breach of its commitment to having four regions playing in the major competitions. As a result, the option of a team playing out of North Wales was raised."By the time of the next PRB meeting on 5 February, discussions had broken down between the Scarlets and Ospreys, and we were told that the Ospreys and another region were in talks over a possible merger, again with North Wales being the option to maintain four teams."Subsequently, those discussions also broke down and we were approached again last week by the Ospreys to reconsider a merger."The PRB issued a statement on Tuesday, outlining its reaction to the breakdown in talks."The PRB wishes to put on record its disappointment at the timing and the uncertainty that this has caused players, staff, coaches and the Welsh rugby public."We are reunited in its pursuit of what is best for professional rugby in Wales."The PRB statement was signed by regional chairmen David Buttress (Dragons), Nigel Short (Scarlets) and Alun Jones (Cardiff Blues), WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips, finance director Steve Phillips and independent chairman David Lovett.Incoming Ospreys chairman Rob Davies on Wednesday said he would be pressing on the WRU and PRB to provide a clear timetable for Project Reset."It's hard to look at this situation and not conclude that a stitch-up of convenience has just unravelled before us all," said Davies."It's now time for the grown-ups to get back in the room."Meanwhile Members of Parliament and Assembly Members from the Ospreys region have written to WRU chief executive Phillips.They have called on him to "look at all possible avenues and do all you possibly can" to prevent the Ospreys from going out of existence.The letter has been signed by Aberavon's Stephen Kinnock MP and David Rees AM, Gower's Tonia Antoniazzi MP and Rebecca Evans AM, Neath's Christina Rees MP and Jeremy Miles AM, Swansea East's Carolyn Harris MP and Mike Hedges AM and Swansea West's Julie James AM."It seems astonishing that the outcome of restructuring the regional game in Wales could result in the most successful region ceasing to exist and Wales' second city failing to have a regional rugby side," the letter saysConfused you should be.

Clearly the "Regions" are struggling financially and this is reflected on the field in the Pro 14 and in European games.

We know from the English Football  Premiership that even with a huge fan base   clubs need the backing of billionaires prepared  to pour money into the club long term and it seems almost impossible for  successful come to break even.

It is evident that regions like the Ospreys or any of the other regions who are struggling financially can find a "Sugar Daddy" prepared to put money into the game to ensure success.

Those like many a Pontypridd supporter, who have never liked or supported the regions however , can't possibly believe that  a Reset could see a return to the Premiership clubs being the height of club rugby in Wales.

The Irish Regions success was hugely helped by the fact that they are composed of the four historical Irish provinces, but Wales had no such template into which we can fit our regions into.

Even a North region would only exist on a map and you can wonder if Dolgellau  would be comfortable  staying  in the current Scarlets region than being lumped with say Wrexham.

It is 16 years since the formation of regional rugby and it has not been a success, though ironically  the National side has prospered.

Maybe because lack of cash has meant that the Regions can't afford to bring in foreign stars the use of which which seems to have had a negative effect on the French National game.

The problem however is I don't know the solution and am not sure if anyone else can come up with one that at least will meet by some approval.

But clearly the one body the one body that should have their finger on the pulse from the National squads, Pro 14 and the humblest  club team should be able to find a way of adopting to the professional game.

On Saturday the National side face Scotland and hopefully proceed to a Grand lam and a successful world cup .

How much the current WRU political shenanigans will derail this remains to be seen.

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