CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Regions look set to slump in manner of the Dragons

First published in Sport

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons are still searching for their first major scalp of the season; the other three regions could soon join the club.

There appears to be a race to the bottom in Welsh rugby.

Forget about challenging for European honours or being the standard bearers in the RaboDirect Pro12, avoiding mediocrity will soon be the ambition.

Yesterday the Ospreys were bemoaning the fact that they will be unable to strengthen their squad in the summer.

“It’s frustrating, especially when you are judged on what you win and how you go in the major competitions and everybody in that competition has more money than you to strengthen their squad,” said coach Jonathan Humphreys.

“Look at Glasgow, they have gone on a hell of a run purely on the strength of their squad. It is huge.

“Leinster will be the same. Munster next year will have the ability to go and get more players. Everybody is going to get stronger.”

The Ospreys have won the Pro12 four times, more than any other side, yet the chances of the reigning champions continuing to set the pace in years to come appears slim.

Last summer they lost Shane Williams, Tommy Bowe and Paul James and the asset-stripping continues this summer when Kahn Fotuali'i, one of the best scrum-halves in the world, heads for Northampton.

It’s a grim situation and stems from the regions that supply players for Wales not being rewarded sufficiently.

Unfortunately the Dragons have played their part as well, taking their share of the pot while frequently providing the fewest members of the national squad out of the four regions.

The system will be the downfall of the national side with more and more players heading abroad to be flogged by clubs who (rightly) don’t care two hoots about Wales.

And those that stay will not be exposed to the top end of club rugby, they won’t learn their trade alongside the best, they won’t be part of a winning culture.

This season the Scarlets were whitewashed in Europe, Cardiff Blues have suffered an Irish Pro12 ‘Grand Slam’ in the capital while the Ospreys, title winners last year, are scrambling to make the playoffs.

There hasn’t been much to toast at Rodney Parade this season with just nine wins out of 26 games, none of them against top opposition.

At this rate the champagne flutes will soon be just as dusty at the Liberty Stadium, Parc y Scarlets and Cardiff Arms Park.

Comments (6)

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6:25pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Dai the Milk says...

Hoist by their own (selfish) petard.
Hoist by their own (selfish) petard. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

8:30pm Thu 28 Feb 13

kenny john says...

Welsh rugby has lost its appeal at regional level. I was at ebbw vale v cardiff the other saturday and that was a good old fashioned club game, where the away fans outnumbered the home by about 5-1. That is the exception and ebbw are one of the few clubs/regions attracting fans.
Worst this situation will get if cardiff city are promoted.
Welsh rugby has lost its appeal at regional level. I was at ebbw vale v cardiff the other saturday and that was a good old fashioned club game, where the away fans outnumbered the home by about 5-1. That is the exception and ebbw are one of the few clubs/regions attracting fans. Worst this situation will get if cardiff city are promoted. kenny john
  • Score: 0

9:27pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Dai the Milk says...

Dodgy Roger has everything in hand. There is nothing wrong with Welsh rugby.
Dodgy Roger has everything in hand. There is nothing wrong with Welsh rugby. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

10:06pm Thu 28 Feb 13

foxy3rd says...

I think people tend to forget just how small Wales is compared to the opposition.Most of our immediate regions would fit into Munster alone and the size of the other Irish regions are bigger.Not to mention the size of the English and French cities and then there is the depressing economic situation here.
I think people tend to forget just how small Wales is compared to the opposition.Most of our immediate regions would fit into Munster alone and the size of the other Irish regions are bigger.Not to mention the size of the English and French cities and then there is the depressing economic situation here. foxy3rd
  • Score: 0

6:26am Fri 1 Mar 13

dragons#1 says...

I think its time to cut to three regions
- East wales region
- West wales region
- development region at pontypridd.

look at ulster they represent a whole country around 1.4 million people. East and west would work supporter wise and the new regions would recieve more money to compete.
I think its time to cut to three regions - East wales region - West wales region - development region at pontypridd. look at ulster they represent a whole country around 1.4 million people. East and west would work supporter wise and the new regions would recieve more money to compete. dragons#1
  • Score: 0

4:23pm Fri 1 Mar 13

Dai the Milk says...

dragons1, Well at least they are regions and very different in character. What we have now aren't.....and the Ponty development makes sense too. The monstrosity we have now is never going to work.
dragons1, Well at least they are regions and very different in character. What we have now aren't.....and the Ponty development makes sense too. The monstrosity we have now is never going to work. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

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