CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Euro woes prove need for third tier

THE European campaigns of three of the four Welsh regions are in tatters after just two rounds but they aren’t the only ones that should be under close scrutiny.

With one win from eight games – and just eight points from 40 – it is a demoralising, yet predictable, state of affairs.

The Ospreys are still flying the flag, just. The December double-header with Toulouse could well end their challenge before the year is out but for now they have hope.

The same cannot be said for Cardiff Blues, whose capitulation against Sale on opening weekend cost them dear, nor the Scarlets, who were always on a hiding to nothing with their powderpuff pack against a trio of sluggers.

The Dragons were plucky yet wasteful against Bayonne.

Combined with a poor display against Wasps it means they have failed to make the most of a kind Amlin Challenge Cup draw.

The regions can point to their financial problems as the reason for their failings but that is an excuse that cannot be used by the two Italian clubs.

Treviso and Zebre boast huge budgets and pretty deep squads yet once again they are winless.

The former deserve praise after pushing Toulouse hard and in fairness they are making strides in the Pro12.

But Zebre have picked up where Aironi left off.

Without a win and frequently drubbed, they only serve to strengthen the argument of those that want the reform of European competition.

On that front, can anyone justify the likes of Rovigo, Mogliano and Bizkaia Gernika taking part in the Challenge Cup?

Humiliating beatings certainly do not serve them well nor do they have any benefit for the sides running in the tries.

A third tier is required, and surely even the imploding Welsh regions couldn’t plumb those depths.

Comments (14)

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11:08am Thu 25 Oct 12

rugbytaff says...

But Zebre have picked up where Aironi left off.

Without a win and frequently drubbed, they only serve to strengthen the argument of those that want the reform of European competition.

On that front, can anyone justify the likes of Rovigo, Mogliano and Bizkaia Gernika taking part in the Challenge Cup?


if this is part of your reasoning then would you apply it to the welsh regions saying that the scarlets, blues and dragons are not worthy of places within european rugby
But Zebre have picked up where Aironi left off. Without a win and frequently drubbed, they only serve to strengthen the argument of those that want the reform of European competition. On that front, can anyone justify the likes of Rovigo, Mogliano and Bizkaia Gernika taking part in the Challenge Cup? if this is part of your reasoning then would you apply it to the welsh regions saying that the scarlets, blues and dragons are not worthy of places within european rugby rugbytaff
  • Score: 0

12:23pm Thu 25 Oct 12

Dai the Milk says...

The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles
s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby.
The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

1:16pm Thu 25 Oct 12

exilemike says...

What does "embrace regional rugby " mean and what positives would come from such apparent enlightenment.
What does "embrace regional rugby " mean and what positives would come from such apparent enlightenment. exilemike
  • Score: 0

1:17pm Thu 25 Oct 12

silurix says...

Dai - agree with your analysis of where we currently are. Disagree with your suggestion for improving it. Embracing a rich benefactor might help. Otherwise I fear regionalism (as you seem to see it) is a couple of generations down the line ( if ever ).

We do parochialism much better than regionalism in Wales. As Stalin said of bringing communism to the Poles "its like trying to saddle a cow".
Dai - agree with your analysis of where we currently are. Disagree with your suggestion for improving it. Embracing a rich benefactor might help. Otherwise I fear regionalism (as you seem to see it) is a couple of generations down the line ( if ever ). We do parochialism much better than regionalism in Wales. As Stalin said of bringing communism to the Poles "its like trying to saddle a cow". silurix
  • Score: 0

2:13pm Thu 25 Oct 12

Dai the Milk says...

Silurix.....loved your quote from Stalin (knowing Poland as well as I do). By acknowledging true regionalism might be 'a couple of generations down the line' you at least understand the concept which is light years away from the current botched model. Am I correct in understanding that regionalism is like saddling a cow because if so, I agree with you. Some do not want it and until they want it and it becomes a reality there will never be any cash to become successful. I accept the whole game is linked to industrial success and sponsorship and we are a relatively poor country but relying on a few small family businessmen to prop up a 'super' club is unrealistic too. When you compare Newport (a town in reality) with Toulouse which has Airbus and Peugeot among its sponsors or Clermont which has Michelin, it's laughable......but until links are formed with the rest of the geographic area of Gwent (which historically has provided most of Newport's players) we will never thrive whether there is an economic upturn or not.

Exile Mike....is this a question or statement? If a question, I hope my post here answers your query.
Silurix.....loved your quote from Stalin (knowing Poland as well as I do). By acknowledging true regionalism might be 'a couple of generations down the line' you at least understand the concept which is light years away from the current botched model. Am I correct in understanding that regionalism is like saddling a cow because if so, I agree with you. Some do not want it and until they want it and it becomes a reality there will never be any cash to become successful. I accept the whole game is linked to industrial success and sponsorship and we are a relatively poor country but relying on a few small family businessmen to prop up a 'super' club is unrealistic too. When you compare Newport (a town in reality) with Toulouse which has Airbus and Peugeot among its sponsors or Clermont which has Michelin, it's laughable......but until links are formed with the rest of the geographic area of Gwent (which historically has provided most of Newport's players) we will never thrive whether there is an economic upturn or not. Exile Mike....is this a question or statement? If a question, I hope my post here answers your query. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

2:27pm Thu 25 Oct 12

rugbytaff says...

"its like trying to saddle a cow".
great saying and extremely apt providing it's a cash cow

is it all about money or is it that we are now all singing from the same hymn sheet all our coaches are trained in the same methods and with the same idea's yet some of our greatest and individual coaches ie carwyn james ray prosser played very different types of rugby but utilised the players at hand ane were very successful within the game
"its like trying to saddle a cow". great saying and extremely apt providing it's a cash cow is it all about money or is it that we are now all singing from the same hymn sheet all our coaches are trained in the same methods and with the same idea's yet some of our greatest and individual coaches ie carwyn james ray prosser played very different types of rugby but utilised the players at hand ane were very successful within the game rugbytaff
  • Score: 0

6:47pm Thu 25 Oct 12

exilemike says...

No wiser,what you are seeking will never happen.What links are you looking for,the good people of Gwent have had 12 years to buy into the concept and seem not to be very interested in the product.I have followed NEWPORT for over 60 years and my recollection is of numerous people from other parts of Monmouthshire having no problem following and supporting Newport up to and including 2003, I don't remember them not feeling part of what was happening .I submit without previous Newport supporterspeople and without the ground where Newport have played for many a long year NGD would have disappeared awhile ago and may still do so.Be careful what you wish for and enjoy what you have while it is still here.
No wiser,what you are seeking will never happen.What links are you looking for,the good people of Gwent have had 12 years to buy into the concept and seem not to be very interested in the product.I have followed NEWPORT for over 60 years and my recollection is of numerous people from other parts of Monmouthshire having no problem following and supporting Newport up to and including 2003, I don't remember them not feeling part of what was happening .I submit without previous Newport supporterspeople and without the ground where Newport have played for many a long year NGD would have disappeared awhile ago and may still do so.Be careful what you wish for and enjoy what you have while it is still here. exilemike
  • Score: 0

8:02pm Thu 25 Oct 12

Keith Barnett says...

It IS all about money.
Even in Gloucester - where they have some great players they say they cannot compete with the budgets of teams in France.
It will all end up exactly like football. Especially the fact there will be one team that can compete (prob Ospreys) one on the verge of competing (either Cardiff or Llanelli) and one that's in the bottom league going no where (Dragons)
Correlate that to what they can spend.
EXACTLY like football
Toulouse spend €33 million!!!
It IS all about money. Even in Gloucester - where they have some great players they say they cannot compete with the budgets of teams in France. It will all end up exactly like football. Especially the fact there will be one team that can compete (prob Ospreys) one on the verge of competing (either Cardiff or Llanelli) and one that's in the bottom league going no where (Dragons) Correlate that to what they can spend. EXACTLY like football Toulouse spend €33 million!!! Keith Barnett
  • Score: 0

9:36pm Thu 25 Oct 12

The People's Republic of Newp says...

Dai the Milk wrote:
The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles

s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby.
Dai, you do make me laugh. Your field of dreams rationale is as valid as Mr Shillabeer's veneration of the coaching set up: please explain to me why an absolutely unheralded and untested approach to professional rugby in south-east Wales is infinitely preferable to the tried and tested model we at RP had in place prior to the institution of 'regional' rugby? And please try to go beyond "build it and they will come".

We agree on one thing though... 'regional' rugby is an absolute joke. The gang of 6 would have been the most viable option and anyone with any nous or business acumen knows it. Familiar with the phrase 'baby and the bathwater'?
[quote][p][bold]Dai the Milk[/bold] wrote: The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby.[/p][/quote]Dai, you do make me laugh. Your field of dreams rationale is as valid as Mr Shillabeer's veneration of the coaching set up: please explain to me why an absolutely unheralded and untested approach to professional rugby in south-east Wales is infinitely preferable to the tried and tested model we at RP had in place prior to the institution of 'regional' rugby? And please try to go beyond "build it and they will come". We agree on one thing though... 'regional' rugby is an absolute joke. The gang of 6 would have been the most viable option and anyone with any nous or business acumen knows it. Familiar with the phrase 'baby and the bathwater'? The People's Republic of Newp
  • Score: 0

9:59pm Thu 25 Oct 12

Dai the Milk says...

The People's Republic of Newp wrote:
Dai the Milk wrote:
The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles


s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby.
Dai, you do make me laugh. Your field of dreams rationale is as valid as Mr Shillabeer's veneration of the coaching set up: please explain to me why an absolutely unheralded and untested approach to professional rugby in south-east Wales is infinitely preferable to the tried and tested model we at RP had in place prior to the institution of 'regional' rugby? And please try to go beyond "build it and they will come".

We agree on one thing though... 'regional' rugby is an absolute joke. The gang of 6 would have been the most viable option and anyone with any nous or business acumen knows it. Familiar with the phrase 'baby and the bathwater'?
People's Republic,

The Newport model prior to 'super-club' rugby was a phase funded by one benefactor from Bisley in Berkshire. Your players were a hotchpotch of nationalities and came largely from the valleys of Wales, Canada or the Southern Hemisphere and had little or nothing to do with your republic. That was hardly the model to base the future of Welsh rugby on. At least Pontypool during their era had 95% Welsh players. 'Tried and tested'? Don't make ME laugh. Real regional rugby is the only way. People in the valleys produce the players and understand the game much better than the towns. Believe me. I have played in both.
[quote][p][bold]The People's Republic of Newp[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Dai the Milk[/bold] wrote: The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby.[/p][/quote]Dai, you do make me laugh. Your field of dreams rationale is as valid as Mr Shillabeer's veneration of the coaching set up: please explain to me why an absolutely unheralded and untested approach to professional rugby in south-east Wales is infinitely preferable to the tried and tested model we at RP had in place prior to the institution of 'regional' rugby? And please try to go beyond "build it and they will come". We agree on one thing though... 'regional' rugby is an absolute joke. The gang of 6 would have been the most viable option and anyone with any nous or business acumen knows it. Familiar with the phrase 'baby and the bathwater'?[/p][/quote]People's Republic, The Newport model prior to 'super-club' rugby was a phase funded by one benefactor from Bisley in Berkshire. Your players were a hotchpotch of nationalities and came largely from the valleys of Wales, Canada or the Southern Hemisphere and had little or nothing to do with your republic. That was hardly the model to base the future of Welsh rugby on. At least Pontypool during their era had 95% Welsh players. 'Tried and tested'? Don't make ME laugh. Real regional rugby is the only way. People in the valleys produce the players and understand the game much better than the towns. Believe me. I have played in both. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

10:25pm Thu 25 Oct 12

The People's Republic of Newp says...

Dai the Milk wrote:
The People's Republic of Newp wrote:
Dai the Milk wrote:
The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles



s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby.
Dai, you do make me laugh. Your field of dreams rationale is as valid as Mr Shillabeer's veneration of the coaching set up: please explain to me why an absolutely unheralded and untested approach to professional rugby in south-east Wales is infinitely preferable to the tried and tested model we at RP had in place prior to the institution of 'regional' rugby? And please try to go beyond "build it and they will come".

We agree on one thing though... 'regional' rugby is an absolute joke. The gang of 6 would have been the most viable option and anyone with any nous or business acumen knows it. Familiar with the phrase 'baby and the bathwater'?
People's Republic,

The Newport model prior to 'super-club' rugby was a phase funded by one benefactor from Bisley in Berkshire. Your players were a hotchpotch of nationalities and came largely from the valleys of Wales, Canada or the Southern Hemisphere and had little or nothing to do with your republic. That was hardly the model to base the future of Welsh rugby on. At least Pontypool during their era had 95% Welsh players. 'Tried and tested'? Don't make ME laugh. Real regional rugby is the only way. People in the valleys produce the players and understand the game much better than the towns. Believe me. I have played in both.
Funded by one benefactor, yes, and unsustainable in that sense - but that's a debate that goes to the heart of ALL professional support, not just rugby.

Money rules, my friend, and I'd rather an outfit with the fourth best crowds in the UK (which they were), greater season ticket sales than any other Welsh club (which they had) and community outreach / engagement models and commercial tie-ins that were the envy of all Welsh clubs, and many beyond Offa's Dyke.

Your comment about the relative knowledge of those in the 'valleys' speaks volumes. You have an axe to grind Dai, and you ignore commercial and professional realities in doing so.

Knowing how to play the game does not mean you know how to run it.
[quote][p][bold]Dai the Milk[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]The People's Republic of Newp[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Dai the Milk[/bold] wrote: The 3 Welsh not-so-super clubs absolutely belong in the third tier already, along with Connacht, the Scottish and Italians. As it stands at present, the top tier includes the biggest French sides, Toulouse, Clermont and Toulon, the Irish regions Ulster (hugely improved and have replaced Munster) and Leinster and probably Leicester and Saracens. The middle tier is made up of the remaining French sides, the remaining English sides and Munster. Newport Dragons are firmly rooted in the lower competition with no prospect of progress.......unles s and until they, like the other 3 clubs, embrace regional rugby.[/p][/quote]Dai, you do make me laugh. Your field of dreams rationale is as valid as Mr Shillabeer's veneration of the coaching set up: please explain to me why an absolutely unheralded and untested approach to professional rugby in south-east Wales is infinitely preferable to the tried and tested model we at RP had in place prior to the institution of 'regional' rugby? And please try to go beyond "build it and they will come". We agree on one thing though... 'regional' rugby is an absolute joke. The gang of 6 would have been the most viable option and anyone with any nous or business acumen knows it. Familiar with the phrase 'baby and the bathwater'?[/p][/quote]People's Republic, The Newport model prior to 'super-club' rugby was a phase funded by one benefactor from Bisley in Berkshire. Your players were a hotchpotch of nationalities and came largely from the valleys of Wales, Canada or the Southern Hemisphere and had little or nothing to do with your republic. That was hardly the model to base the future of Welsh rugby on. At least Pontypool during their era had 95% Welsh players. 'Tried and tested'? Don't make ME laugh. Real regional rugby is the only way. People in the valleys produce the players and understand the game much better than the towns. Believe me. I have played in both.[/p][/quote]Funded by one benefactor, yes, and unsustainable in that sense - but that's a debate that goes to the heart of ALL professional support, not just rugby. Money rules, my friend, and I'd rather an outfit with the fourth best crowds in the UK (which they were), greater season ticket sales than any other Welsh club (which they had) and community outreach / engagement models and commercial tie-ins that were the envy of all Welsh clubs, and many beyond Offa's Dyke. Your comment about the relative knowledge of those in the 'valleys' speaks volumes. You have an axe to grind Dai, and you ignore commercial and professional realities in doing so. Knowing how to play the game does not mean you know how to run it. The People's Republic of Newp
  • Score: 0

11:30pm Thu 25 Oct 12

Keith Barnett says...

Hey Dai - what happened to that super valley model Pontypool?
Hey Dai - what happened to that super valley model Pontypool? Keith Barnett
  • Score: 0

8:26am Fri 26 Oct 12

Dai the Milk says...

Keith Barnett wrote:
Hey Dai - what happened to that super valley model Pontypool?
The success of that particular club was based on their supporter base.....over 15 years.....not a single commercial benefactor. Let the Pontypool experience serve as a warning to Newport Dragons. If your face fits you're ok. If not, look out.
[quote][p][bold]Keith Barnett[/bold] wrote: Hey Dai - what happened to that super valley model Pontypool?[/p][/quote]The success of that particular club was based on their supporter base.....over 15 years.....not a single commercial benefactor. Let the Pontypool experience serve as a warning to Newport Dragons. If your face fits you're ok. If not, look out. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

8:37am Fri 26 Oct 12

Dai the Milk says...

Keith.....Let me add that that 'super model', despite its political and financial problems off the field, still churns out your better players (those not imported at any rate). Lloyd Burns, Toby Faletau and Dan Lidiate all played their junior rugby at Pontypool following on in the footsteps of the likes of Ken Jones, Keith Poole etc etc. What a wise move that was from the WRU then.......cutting off the hand that feeds you. Or is it part of a wider plan?
Keith.....Let me add that that 'super model', despite its political and financial problems off the field, still churns out your better players (those not imported at any rate). Lloyd Burns, Toby Faletau and Dan Lidiate all played their junior rugby at Pontypool following on in the footsteps of the likes of Ken Jones, Keith Poole etc etc. What a wise move that was from the WRU then.......cutting off the hand that feeds you. Or is it part of a wider plan? Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

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