Welsh rugby stutters as real issues fail to be addressed

Back in October, in a response to the WRU “offer” of central contracts, I wrote an article explaining why it was such a poor deal and I included this:

“There is a real financial problem facing the regions and it needs to be dealt with now. The WRU could well be on their way to paying off their debt, in say, 10 years, but they do so at the real threat of the decline of the Welsh domestic game. In effect, they are cutting off their own source of income, because once the domestic game is gone, where exactly are their international players going to come from?

For years the regions have relied on generous benefactors and boards of directors, but it is not a sustainable way to survive. The WRU need to act, not drive away the benefactors due to the inequalities of the partnership, and offer up deals that take more than they give.” 

On November 8th:

“Welsh rugby has a history of effectively shooting itself in the foot. Indeed the only positive (for some) outcome to have come from negotiations between the WRU and Regional Rugby Wales is that of the double header regional derby organised for March. When it was announced it was revealed that it took five years for this decision to be reached.

It is quite clear that neither the regions or the WRU are capable of negotiating effectively between themselves which would make the idea of a separate management board enforcing things appealing, although how it would be set up is a serious question that needs addressing and quickly.

What is clear from the report is that both sides need to work together to improve domestic rugby in Wales. Despite poor management and past blunders, the regions have been trying to do this for the last couple of seasons. The WRU need to do what the report says and get themselves on board.” 

On November 19th:

It is positive that it appears that the WRU and the regions are talking, but if you compare Roger Lewis’ comments with that from those involved in the regions in the press, there appears to be very little correlation.

Welsh rugby will await with bated breath this new deal which is supposedly due before Christmas. For those that are hoping it will be the new lifeline Welsh rugby on a whole needs, judging by Roger Lewis’ comments about it strengthening Team Wales, and very little about how it would help the regions, they might well be set for a disappointment.” 

On December 11th:

“Forget the posturing, forget the blame games, forget the every club for itself attitude. Welsh rugby needs to work together to move forward for it to have a sustainable future and make proper use of the players it is producing. Quite simply, Welsh rugby needs to grow up. 

Back in January when there were rumours about cutting the amount of Welsh regions I wrote this:

What is needed is what Roger Lewis actually promised – the regions and the WRU working together to get the best results. None of this chopping and changing or demoting a region’s status or of promising to be discrete then providing interviews to a national paper. Added to that the allegations that the WRU were considering letting the Ospreys fold, which have been staunchly denied, leads to a situation whereby it is difficult to see who to trust or who to believe.

Roger Lewis and the WRU have already started to go back on what they have originally stated. They talk of honesty and respect, yet with Roger Lewis talking out to the press after advising the regions against doing so themselves, it does not appear that it is happening. The regions themselves still have masses to work on, both on and off field, yet this uncertainty over their futures and their status leaves them in a very difficult position.” 

In February: 

“Nothing in Welsh rugby is ever simple. With the knack of holding grudges, of personal agendas, of cutting noses off to spite their faces Welsh rugby often sees people working at their worst.” 

Just last month I wrote this:

“The WRU is in a position to really work together with the clubs for the benefit of Welsh rugby as a whole, especially as we now ride on the wave of confidence from the men’s senior side doing so well. Sadly it does not appear there are those at the WRU able to see the real issues facing the sport in Wales.” 

The words indicated in bold are what is really important here. Over 6 months I have been commenting on the dire state of the game in Wales, and it is truly tragic that instead of the problems being addressed, we are actually worse off now than we were in October, with the latest talk from the WRU only cementing that fact. 

The link to the WRU statement is here: http://www.wru.co.uk/eng/news/25394.php#.UVl5iZNJN1U

Going on what I’ve already written, with Roger Lewis’ past form of stating the need to be discrete, honest and respectful, this statement goes entirely against that. The language, tone and sheer aggressive defensiveness does absolutely nothing to help better negotiation streams between the WRU and RRW. As a governing body they should know better. Indeed the worst part of the WRU statement is that they have used an innocent 20 year old for petty political point scoring. The WRU have just provided a clear as day example of Welsh rugby at its worst. 

Added to that RRW and the Scarlets have since been forced to make statements of their own (links here http://www.scarlets.co.uk/eng/news/5671.php & http://www.scarlets.co.uk/eng/news/5672.php). No one wants to see such public mud-slinging yet the WRU in their lack of professionalism  have now forced this issue.

The Scarlets have a policy of not discussing player contract negotiations publicly yet the WRU have made them break that. Reading the Scarlets statement, it’s hard to believe any of the accusations the WRU has thrown their way. How on earth can they be actively looking to sell a player, when they have offered up a contract of their own?

It is also interesting to see that the statements from the two sides contradict each other at other parts as well, and we await the full RRW statement with bated breath. As stated back in January, when this is conducted in the public eye, with both sides at such polar opposites, just who exactly are we supposed to believe? 

If it were possible we should strip it down and just look at the facts. Both sides blame the other for the PRGB failing. The regions however have been singing from the same sheet for two seasons now. They know what it is they want to discuss; funding, compensation, season structure, support etc. Just why are the WRU seemingly skirting around these issue? 

The PWC report indicated that the best way forward was for the WRU and regions to work in closer collaboration – not the central contracts route which the WRU seem to be such a fan of. The fact that the WRU have seen fit instead to publicly attack the regions in such a poor thought out statement does not help the situation at all.

Again I’ve said it before and to my despair I’ve no doubt I will say it again. Welsh rugby needs to grow up, and fast, and if there are ego’s getting in the way from either side preventing this, then it’s time for them to move on. All they are doing is hurting the Welsh game. 

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