CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Euro woes prove need for third tier
9:10am Thursday 25th October 2012 in Sport
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.