CHRIS KIRWAN: Apathy a danger in Welsh rugby rumpus

THERE is a danger that a major event in Welsh rugby politics is, just like the European elections, greeted by apathy.

Last week 68 per cent of the electorate couldn’t be bothered to vote in Wales. One imagines the number of rugby fans that switch off at the mention of an emergency general meeting of the Welsh Rugby Union is even greater.

Just like in the battle for Brussels, there is spin from all sides and at times it is a tussle between personalities (or egos) rather than policy.

I find it all rather intriguing but plenty of folk have no interest in what is an incredibly important debate.

Anyone involved in the game, whatever the level, knows that it is faced by problems. This is a chance to delve into the issues rather than simply shrugging shoulders and accepting whatever is decided by the men in suits.

Former WRU chief executive David Moffett is certainly shaking things up and he will affect change even if he fails to succeed in his bid to topple those in power at the Millennium Stadium.

His manifesto ‘One Wales’ contained some excellent ideas that will no doubt be adopted in the coming years, even if he isn’t the individual signing them off.

But the very name Moffett prompts some to put fingers in ears. The name of WRU chief executive Roger Lewis has the same effect on those at the other end of the spectrum.

It promises to be an interesting few weeks until a showdown in Port Talbot but one imagines the EGM won’t send shockwaves through Welsh rugby as it’s hard to see a majority of clubs going against the WRU.

However, it is clear that there needs to be a genuine partnership between the board of the Union and Regional Rugby Wales, the body that represents Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets. At the moment there is a serious lack of trust between the two sides, despite the best efforts of mediator Sir Wyn Williams.

And it is clear, courtesy of the grumbling over the restructuring of the Swalec Leagues, that dialogue between the Union and the grassroots needs to improve.

Comments (1)

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1:44pm Thu 29 May 14

The People's Republic of Newp says...

The most important issue for me, and many others, I suspect, is the separation of the administration of the pro-game from the semi-pro and community tiers.

The WRU has to have the faith in the ability of the 'regions' to define their own commercial identities and futures, according to their own determinations of local-level interest and support. Without that, pro-rugby will continue to find itself mired in the quagmire it presently occupies. Hopefully by 'liberating' 'regions' in this fashion, regional administrators' capacity will thrive... that in itself will prove a challenge but this is an issue that premiership rugby and professional football in England felt compelled to tackle and eventually did so.

Once settled, the WRU must support those ventures to the best of their abilities in terms of finance and work to reform the international calendar. The remainder of its time should be dedicated to bringing certainty to the semi-pro and community ventures that feed upward and upon which the entire game depends. Without that, I see more of the same and little else.

I'm astonished to be saying this but it seems Moffett (taking into account the PWC report recommendations) offers the most viable way forward.
The most important issue for me, and many others, I suspect, is the separation of the administration of the pro-game from the semi-pro and community tiers. The WRU has to have the faith in the ability of the 'regions' to define their own commercial identities and futures, according to their own determinations of local-level interest and support. Without that, pro-rugby will continue to find itself mired in the quagmire it presently occupies. Hopefully by 'liberating' 'regions' in this fashion, regional administrators' capacity will thrive... that in itself will prove a challenge but this is an issue that premiership rugby and professional football in England felt compelled to tackle and eventually did so. Once settled, the WRU must support those ventures to the best of their abilities in terms of finance and work to reform the international calendar. The remainder of its time should be dedicated to bringing certainty to the semi-pro and community ventures that feed upward and upon which the entire game depends. Without that, I see more of the same and little else. I'm astonished to be saying this but it seems Moffett (taking into account the PWC report recommendations) offers the most viable way forward. The People's Republic of Newp
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