Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.I didn’t think when I last chatted about the Pro14 on this blog that I would return to it so soon and, as always I preface everything I say on rugby with the statement that there are bloggers far more knowledgeable about the game than me (again can I lead you to https://thevietgwent.wordpress.com/).
But events have made me put fingers to keyboard again. There is a special two day WRU conference and according to reports because of finance issues the proposal is to make the current four Welsh teams in the PRO14 two main teams (who will get most of the money) and two feeder clubs.
Now I’ve never hidden my antipathy towards the structure of Welsh club rugby but let’s put that aside for one moment and look at this proposal objectively…..
Are they mad?
Leaving aside the issue of the supposed feeder clubs that play in the lower leagues there is already not enough regional support for four teams. Do you think that’s going to increase if two of the clubs are just feeder sides?
Also if we assume that in these plans that the Dragons would be a feeder club who would be the other one? You can make commercial, cultural and sporting arguments for the Blues, Ospreys and the Scarlets to be a non-feeder side.
Truly the men (I assume) in the WRU with oddly shaped balls have gone insane.
But if we have got to a stage where essentially there is only two teams in the top tier then surely the solution is just to leave the PRO14? To bring back support to club rugby in Wales would not be a quick thing but surely if you start with making The Championship as the top tier and bring back promotion and relegation you would get what these regional teams (speaking generally) never really achieved which is local support.
Life has changed since the PRO14 started. Going to a club game is not the ritual it once was. But if people see their local teams playing meaningful games then at least some of that support would return and so hopefully would help the local club finances, some clubs currently being either bankrupt or in perilous financial straights.
As for the quality of the rugby? Well probably initially it wouldn’t be great. But you watch exciting matches in any tier in any sport. And after a while the quality will increase.
If the PRO14 is in such a parlous state in Wales surely the answer is not to go back to the future but back for the future.
Until the next time.