CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Plenty of post-party problems for Welsh rugby
9:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Sport
I AM a glass-half empty man.
A free flight to Spain wouldn’t stop me moaning about the exchange rate, a pint on the house wouldn’t stop me grumbling under my breath that the Guinness isn’t great, the cinema is still too expensive and full of annoying people even when it’s two-for-one.
Unwrapping presents is just a lot of fuss before disappointment, I expect electric items to break on the very day the warranty expires, weddings are a day of overpriced drinks and ghastly dancing rather than celebration.
I am a miserable, ungrateful Victor Meldrew figure who expects the worst.
But sometimes it pays off to be that way, it can be fine to go against the flow and say ‘no, things aren’t all rosy.’
The praise has been gushing for Wales after the stunning 30-3 crushing of England in the Six Nations.
The performance of Rob Howley’s side deserves to be lauded; it was a magnificent physical, clinical, confident display that retained the title with unexpected ease.
But it was also a success that makes you wonder whether a DIY store should have their logo emblazoned on the jersey rather than Admiral, after all, it papered over a lot of cracks.
There was no ignoring the fact that the sport is in crisis in Wales when the national side was spluttering their way through the autumn.
Similarly there was a lot of navel-gazing when not one region managed to progress beyond the group stages of European competition.
Now for some it’s a case of problems? What problems? Three Grand Slams and four titles in nine tournaments, one World Cup semi-final – rugby is in rude health.
Yet the same problems plague the game regardless of events at the Millennium Stadium.
Some clubs are struggling to put out teams because of a chronic player shortage while others are hindered by a lack of volunteers, which is unsurprising given that (usually retirement age) officials often have to deal with an amount of paperwork that would make most civil servants go on strike.
The regions are fighting a losing battle when keeping hold of their top talent with George North potentially joining the exodus.
Yet the results of the national side show that regional rugby works, it delivers success in the Test arena and boosts the Welsh Rugby Union’s coffers.
The efforts of Warburton, Faletau, Cuthbert & Co earns prize money, attracts sponsorship and shifts merchandise.
Stroll through Gloucester, Leicester and Northampton and you will see Cherry and Whites, Tigers and Saints colours, rarely items emblazoned with the red rose. The opposite seems to be the case in Wales.
The cash that flows in because of the national team needs to be shared; invest in the game and the money will keep coming in, chipping away at the Millennium Stadium debt.
Remunerate the regions that have prompted the success, give them the chance to win trophies and keep supplying top players.
Then everyone can toast success with their glasses half-full.
AESTIVATION: to pass the summer in a dormant condition. Hibernation: to spend the winter in a dormant condition. Plenty of those that donned their red last weekend manage to combine the two.
It’s no secret that the bandwagon is a rather large one when it comes to rugby in Wales.
That can be galling for those of us that love the sport all year round but rather than have a swipe at pub/armchair spectators we need to engage them.
In tomorrow’s Argus, next to the previews of the Swalec Cup quarter-finals involving Ebbw Vale and Blackwood, will be the weekend fixture list.
I’d advise those that were thrilled by Alex Cuthberts’ brace of tries against the English to go down the list, which goes from RaboDirect Pro12 to Division Seven, and pick a game.
Support your region or club, because occasions like last Saturday won’t happen without the lower-key fixtures that take place up and down the land every weekend.
Granted, there are problems that need solving with the ‘product’ that is the Pro12, Premiership and below.
But for now we just need the wider public to show an appetite for rugby.