Regions finding it tough

First published in Sport South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

THE Welsh Rugby Union may have enjoyed a record turnover and record-equalling profit in the last financial year but the regions are faced by the same old financial dilemmas.

Last season saw an exodus of talent with Luke Charteris, Aled Brew, Gethin Jenkins and Huw Bennett joining Lee Byrne, Mike Phillips and James Hook in France.

It looks likely to be the same old dance over the coming months.

Given the amount of games that the regions get from international players, the Dragons must weigh up the merit of offering a new deal to Dan Lydiate – and even then it is likely to be blown out of the water by French or English rivals. The Blues are in the same boat with Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert.

The situation prompted former Newport owner Tony Brown, a non-executive director at the Dragons, to criticise the Union.

“It seems appalling to me that while the WRU appear to be extremely well-off, the regions are bleeding,” he told The Rugby Paper.

“The WRU are paying off their debt on the Millennium Stadium 30 years earlier than scheduled and in the mean time regional rugby is costing the regions an arm and a leg.

“The Irish provinces are going from strength to strength while the Ireland national team appears to have lost ground,” he continued.

“The opposite is true in Wales where we have a successful national team and the regions bleeding to death.

“The regions need more help from the WRU. The amount of time an international player can spend with his region is very limited.

“There needs to be some sort of contractual arrangement between the two parties.”

His claims were refuted by WRU chief executive Roger Lewis.

“I think Tony is a bit lost in action here,” he said. “He has only attended one meeting with the Welsh Rugby Union and the four regions over the last six years – that took place this year.

“So, I didn’t quite know what to make of Tony’s comments there because we have been working hard with the people who are at the sharp end of regional rugby.”

The WRU recorded revenue of £63m last year, the highest turnover in its 131-year history and an improvement of 16 per cent on 2011.

The Millennium Stadium debt, which was about £75m when the ground was built in 1999, is now £19m.

The figures for the year ending June 2012 showed a pre-tax profit of £2.4m and the WRU said it was on target to be debt-free by 2021.

Comments (9)

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3:12pm Tue 2 Oct 12

high x boy says...

the price of the tickets no wonder
the price of the tickets no wonder high x boy
  • Score: 0

4:02pm Tue 2 Oct 12

mep says...

If the English/French clubs get their way as far as Heiniken qualification is concerned I can see the Welsh/Scottish and Italians scrambling for the last three spots and don't count on the Welsh getting them all!
If the English/French clubs get their way as far as Heiniken qualification is concerned I can see the Welsh/Scottish and Italians scrambling for the last three spots and don't count on the Welsh getting them all! mep
  • Score: 0

9:39am Wed 3 Oct 12

broadsworddan says...

How patronising is roger Lewis? Well, tony brown has been involved in finance of rugby teams for alot longer than you, mate! Also, your comment...

“So, I didn’t quite know what to make of Tony’s comments there because we have been working hard with the people who are at the sharp end of regional rugby"

Tony brown is a board member and major financier of one of Wales four regions. Is that not "sharp end" enough for you? Patronising, nasty piece of work you are Roger.

And finally, everyone knows tony is right.

If the WRU want to benefit from the pyramid system which is working very well in Wales for player development. Then the same pyramid should be reversed for financing. So the trickle down to grass roots comes via the regions, to the premiership, and so on. This will also help to bring the clubs and the regions closer together.
How patronising is roger Lewis? Well, tony brown has been involved in finance of rugby teams for alot longer than you, mate! Also, your comment... “So, I didn’t quite know what to make of Tony’s comments there because we have been working hard with the people who are at the sharp end of regional rugby" Tony brown is a board member and major financier of one of Wales four regions. Is that not "sharp end" enough for you? Patronising, nasty piece of work you are Roger. And finally, everyone knows tony is right. If the WRU want to benefit from the pyramid system which is working very well in Wales for player development. Then the same pyramid should be reversed for financing. So the trickle down to grass roots comes via the regions, to the premiership, and so on. This will also help to bring the clubs and the regions closer together. broadsworddan
  • Score: 0

11:59am Wed 3 Oct 12

Dai the Milk says...

Broadsword....very well said. Most patronising. I am not a fan of the way the set-up is run, but Tony Brown is very much at the sharp end. What a p****** this guy is. You are also spot on about the pyramid needing to be reversed. We are lucky if we see a trickle. On a different note though, if the regions were inclusive and not clubs dressed up as regions we might see more bums on seats and hence more income of our own.
Broadsword....very well said. Most patronising. I am not a fan of the way the set-up is run, but Tony Brown is very much at the sharp end. What a p****** this guy is. You are also spot on about the pyramid needing to be reversed. We are lucky if we see a trickle. On a different note though, if the regions were inclusive and not clubs dressed up as regions we might see more bums on seats and hence more income of our own. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

12:14pm Wed 3 Oct 12

b3talover says...

Considering the WRU own 50% of the Dragons you'd think they would want to at least invest in our academy. Oh yeah, I forgot, that 50% is a blocking 50% to prevent the Dragons from growing financially. What are the odds on the WRU buying the other 50% and closing us down now they have the money?
Considering the WRU own 50% of the Dragons you'd think they would want to at least invest in our academy. Oh yeah, I forgot, that 50% is a blocking 50% to prevent the Dragons from growing financially. What are the odds on the WRU buying the other 50% and closing us down now they have the money? b3talover
  • Score: 0

3:50pm Wed 3 Oct 12

broadsworddan says...

Thanks Dai. You're right too that the regions (ours especially) are just clubs dressed up as regions. And until they become more region-like they won't fully embrace the clubs within their jurastiction.

Having said that, it looks like the regions are struggling to survive let alone expand their operations.

Although channeling grass roots and other club funding via the regions (with obvious WRU managed limitations) seems to me to be a good way of prompting the clubs and regions to co exist with more respect.

Hell, why not have WRU admin staff farmed out to the respective regions to do the same job they do now, only with a regional logo on their shirts.

The WRU need to think more about how to build the brands of the regions.
Thanks Dai. You're right too that the regions (ours especially) are just clubs dressed up as regions. And until they become more region-like they won't fully embrace the clubs within their jurastiction. Having said that, it looks like the regions are struggling to survive let alone expand their operations. Although channeling grass roots and other club funding via the regions (with obvious WRU managed limitations) seems to me to be a good way of prompting the clubs and regions to co exist with more respect. Hell, why not have WRU admin staff farmed out to the respective regions to do the same job they do now, only with a regional logo on their shirts. The WRU need to think more about how to build the brands of the regions. broadsworddan
  • Score: 0

4:31pm Wed 3 Oct 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

The latest suggestion of farming out WRU staff sounds a good idea, but if that doesn't work as expected it would mean the blame being passed to the WRU for allocating the wrong people, please grow up.

The regions are very capable of employing competent staff to manage each region. What is required is more cash being fed into regional rugby by the central body the WRU.

The regions are expected to produce the players for the Welsh squad but are limited by a lack of financial support and of course the salary cap so the better players go to France.

When is the report into financing the Welsh regions due out, it seems to be slipping in my view?

Central contracts have been suggested recently as a way of funding players and whilst the payment of the debt of the WRU is important it is ahead of the timescales originally set so there is some room to relax and use the money elsewhere.

As for the regions being more widely represented in thier region, the Dragons do support the Premiership clubs by placing some players with them and there is some support given back, but not enough as yet.

There are some supporters who come to Dragons games but not in big numbers and that is one area that much more work needs to be done. As far as ticket prices go the Dragons are not the most expensive by a long way.

The WRU must be prepared to give much more help with money than currently given and hopefully the long awaited report will throw some light on this.
The latest suggestion of farming out WRU staff sounds a good idea, but if that doesn't work as expected it would mean the blame being passed to the WRU for allocating the wrong people, please grow up. The regions are very capable of employing competent staff to manage each region. What is required is more cash being fed into regional rugby by the central body the WRU. The regions are expected to produce the players for the Welsh squad but are limited by a lack of financial support and of course the salary cap so the better players go to France. When is the report into financing the Welsh regions due out, it seems to be slipping in my view? Central contracts have been suggested recently as a way of funding players and whilst the payment of the debt of the WRU is important it is ahead of the timescales originally set so there is some room to relax and use the money elsewhere. As for the regions being more widely represented in thier region, the Dragons do support the Premiership clubs by placing some players with them and there is some support given back, but not enough as yet. There are some supporters who come to Dragons games but not in big numbers and that is one area that much more work needs to be done. As far as ticket prices go the Dragons are not the most expensive by a long way. The WRU must be prepared to give much more help with money than currently given and hopefully the long awaited report will throw some light on this. Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 0

9:24am Thu 4 Oct 12

high x boy says...

I meant ticket prices for the international games.
I meant ticket prices for the international games. high x boy
  • Score: 0

3:43pm Thu 4 Oct 12

SWBorderer says...

I noticed the Mr Moffatt, the genius who thought up this dog's breakfast put in his two penneth the other day.

Can't help thinking the WRU would have paid off even more of their debt if they hadn't dished it out to the Scarlets.

I do find it difficult to see how the Dragons can become more regionalised, let's face it, the majority from the rest of the area don't want anything to do with a team that has any association with Newport although most of them don't know why, yet when it came to fronting up time, no-one else was prepared to put up any finacial support.

We can kid ourselves as much as we like, we do not have regional rugby in Wales and never will, we simply have a bastardised system that has left the majority of rugby supporters in Wales disenfranchised.
I noticed the Mr Moffatt, the genius who thought up this dog's breakfast put in his two penneth the other day. Can't help thinking the WRU would have paid off even more of their debt if they hadn't dished it out to the Scarlets. I do find it difficult to see how the Dragons can become more regionalised, let's face it, the majority from the rest of the area don't want anything to do with a team that has any association with Newport although most of them don't know why, yet when it came to fronting up time, no-one else was prepared to put up any finacial support. We can kid ourselves as much as we like, we do not have regional rugby in Wales and never will, we simply have a bastardised system that has left the majority of rugby supporters in Wales disenfranchised. SWBorderer
  • Score: 0

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