Welsh franchise to be culled?

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 09:37
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Poor results and financial constraints may force the Welsh Rugby Union to cull another one of their franchises.

Poor results and financial constraints may force the Welsh Rugby Union to cull another one of their franchises.

Despite the evidence that such actions brought no reward for the Scottish Rugby Union, Wales Rugby Union Chief Executive Roger Lewis is still considering this drastic step.

Lewis, speaking to the Sunday Times, revealed that drastic financial measures are needed to boost game in Wales.

He told the newspaper that one of the four current Welsh regional teams could be downgraded to a "development operation" and that full European funding could be restricted to only two teams a season by a WRU fighting to shore up the professional game.

In other moves mooted by Lewis the operation of the four regional teams - Blues, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets - could come increasingly under the control of the union.

He suggested that marketing, coaching development and even coaching appointments and aspects of player recruitment could be taken over entirely or at the very least in significant measure at headquarters.

"We must ensure a far better Welsh performance in the European Cup and one of the things we should be looking at is funding one or two Welsh regions to a greater extent," Lewis told the Sunday Times.

"Instead of an equality of funding, we could move towards a situation where everyone is equal," he added.

The Welsh franchises are struggling to compete financially with some of their European rivals and Lewis has given the game just a year to sort itself out.

While he says he would like to keep four professional sides, finances might dictate otherwise.

"The minimum to me must be three teams," Lewis told the newspaper.

"Two is far too few and four is preferable."

In a landmark move earlier this month a new professional body was created to strengthen and develop professional rugby in Wales and the four Welsh regions.

However, the clear implication of Lewis's comments is that unless there are significant changes one of the regions could find themselves reduced to a development operation in the not-too-distant future.

That would be the most significant change to the professional structure in Wales since the Celtic Warriors were culled in 2004, leaving four regions.

Now doubt there will be a massive outcry if one of the Welsh teams is culled.

Scotland is clear proof that slashing numbers doesn't guarantee a miraculous transformation in fortunes.

One of Lewis' mains goals would be to stop the exodus of Welsh players to the wealthy Top 14 clubs in France.

"The Welsh Rugby Union has to take a far greater responsibility and therefore control over professional rugby within Wales," added Lewis.

"This is no criticism of the regions; this is merely my view. A successful Wales playing at the Millennium Stadium drives rugby."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 12 February 2016
Scarlets v Edinburgh 20h15 Parc y Scarlets
Sat, 13 February 2016
Treviso v Cardiff Blues 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
France v Ireland 14h25 Paris
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs 14h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Northampton Saints v London Irish 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Worcester Warriors v Bath 15h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Harlequins 15h00 Kingsholm
Wales v Scotland 16h50 Cardiff
Sun, 14 February 2016
Italy v England 14h00 Rome
Saracens v Wasps 16h00 Allianz Park
Munster v Ospreys 17h00 Irish Independent Park
Mon, 15 February 2016
NMMU-Madibaz v Maties 14h45 Port Elizabeth
CUT-Ixias v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Bloemfontein
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16h30 Pietermaritzburg
TUT v UWC 16h30 Pretoria
UP-Tuks v Shimlas 16h30 Pretoria
NWU-Pukke v UJ 17h00 Potchefstroom
Thu, 18 February 2016
TUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Pretoria
Fort Hare v Wits 16h30 East London
Fri, 19 February 2016
Zebre v Leinster 22h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 12 February 2016
Scarlets v Edinburgh 22 | 21
Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers 26 | 14
Leinster v Zebre 52 | 0
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 13 | 10
Thu, 11 February 2016
Dragons v Connacht 21 | 26
Mon, 08 February 2016
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 17 | 23
UJ v NMMU-Madibaz 19 | 12
Maties v CUT-Ixias 40 | 0
UWC v UKZN-Impi 13 | 24
Wits v TUT 53 | 0
UP-Tuks v NWU-Pukke 15 | 38
Sun, 07 February 2016
Ireland v Wales 16 | 16
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 11 | 14
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 20 | 13
Sat, 06 February 2016
Scotland v England 9 | 15
PRO12
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Ulster 14 9 0 5 45
Connacht 14 9 0 5 45
Leinster 13 10 0 3 44
Scarlets 14 10 0 4 44
Edinburgh 14 8 0 6 38
Munster 12 8 0 4 36
Ospreys 13 6 1 6 30
Glasgow Warriors 12 5 1 6 30
Cardiff Blues 12 5 0 7 27
Dragons 14 4 0 10 22
Zebre 13 4 0 9 18
Treviso 13 0 0 13 7