With the Christmas and New year Derbys over with, they provided a much needed boost to attendances in Welsh rugby over the holiday period, even if the rugby on display was not much to savour.
The Dragons, Blues and Scarlets are all in a poor run of form, yet the West Wales region still remains second in the RaboDirect PRO12. The Ospreys were the only region to produce any good play over the holiday period, with convincing and commanding displays over both the Scarlets and Dragons, moving themselves up to joint 5th in the league, just shy of a play off spot.
The biggest news to have emerged over the last week however is that of the new revelations of the apparent discussions held by the WRU over the demise of the Ospreys.
Last season there were rumours abounding over all the region’s financial affairs, with strong murmurings over the solidity of the Ospreys, with them having faced a postponed winding up order over an unpaid tax bill.
It would appear instead of discussing with the Ospreys a way of improving their situation, the WRU instead held talks over how best to replace the Swansea based region, even apparently going so far as to have talks with the Scarlets for them to base their next season’s recruitment policy with the availability of Ospreys players in mind.
Whilst you could argue that it could be prudent for a nation’s union to put plans in place for how best to cope with a failure of a region, it should never be that union’s first option.
The WRU did not wait for the Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) report to be finished before supposedly pushing forward with the talks. Talks that, if reports are to be believed, did not include the Ospreys.
We have the apparent situation of a union, instead of doing its utmost to save their most successful region were putting in place talks and proposals as to how to continue without them.
It beggars belief if true that the WRU did not put the safeguarding over an established region first, did not wait to discover the true facts over that regions’ finances before starting talks, and then going behind that region’s back to decide their future.
The WRU have claimed that all statements are incorrect and defamatory, yet the quotes from Rob Davies, an investor in the Ospreys, would appear to have at least some substance behind them.
The PWC report found the Ospreys to be the strongest of the four regions. History in the PRO12 and Celtic league show them to be the most successful. The fact that the WRU could have discussed plans to get rid of them without facts and without open discussion, if true, is nothing short of scandalous.
With reports from Roger Lewis in the last couple of weeks that the WRU are even considering going to three regions and one development region alarm bells should be ringing throughout the regions. If even a modicum of the statements about the WRU conduct are proven true then Welsh rugby appears to be re-entering the murky waters fans would have hoped it had long left behind. Closed negotiations and the exclusions of regions in talks has been seen before. What resulted was the demise of the Celtic Warriors.
The WRU board along with Roger Lewis need to take a good look at how they are to run a professional organisation. As more and more reports appear it would appear that they are still stuck in an amateur mind set where ego’s, self-serving ideals and the inability to conduct open negotiations are still rampant.