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Thursday May 5, 2022

Catastrophic News For Welsh Rugby

The Welsh Rugby Union has put forward proposals to cut the current professional regions from four teams down to three.

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On the back of several lean years at club level both on and off the pitch, this news doesn’t come as a surprise to many Rugby observers.

Currently occupying the bottom half of the United Rugby Championship table, the calls for change appear to be louder than ever. This dire situation appears to only be going one way, with the addition of the South African provincial franchises the competition will only get tougher.

Not since the heydays of the Wayne Pivac led Scarlets has any Welsh side been a true contender in either the European competitions or URC.

Off the field it is understood that outside of the Ospreys who are majority owned by a private company the Welsh regions would not be financially viable.

Built on the strong success of the national side since 2008 the WRU has been able to fund 80% of their top 38 players wages.

However, with a serious lack of attendance for regional games and no Welsh sides currently involved in The Heineken Champions Cup the financial burden now appears unsustainable.

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Welsh regional sides being cut is not a new phenomenon having previously happened in 2003 & again in 2004.

The current proposals include a merger between the Ospreys and Scarlets or the removal of either The Dragons or Ospreys.

Outside of the emotional impact this will have on the regions there is also the practical element of further shrinking the player pool within the country. Cutting a regional side would see Wales fall significantly behind their international rivals. On the back of a poor Six Nations by their high standards this news is certainly not what Welsh fans would want to be hearing.

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With this news the questions need to be asked, how have these issues been papered over for so long? Is there a viable alternative for regenerating interest in the regional game, could private investment be that answer?

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