CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Ospreys' glory is no regional panacea
9:20am Thursday 31st May 2012 in Columnists
SHANE Williams may be magical but not even his dancing feet can solve the problems of Welsh rugby with one inspirational moment.
The Ospreys’ RaboDirect Pro12 triumph against Europe’s best team in Dublin was a magnificent achievement.
But one accurate swoosh of Dan Biggar’s right boot to seal a one-point win does not mean that fears about financial problems, an exodus of big-name talent, poor crowds and European failure can be brushed under the carpet.
As soon as the touch judges raised their flags for the match-winning conversion, certain people were drafting their ‘told-you-so’ speeches. They printed out the transcript when Leinster failed to wrestle the lead back.
Regional Rugby Wales chief Stuart Gallacher responded to the critics and said there is grounds for optimism.
The truth probably lies somewhere between the two – there won’t be an apocalypse next season but there will be plenty of challenges.
Europe is still the acid test and Welsh hopes will once again fall on the Ospreys, who have shown they have the power up front that is essential in the Heineken Cup.
A favourable draw and they could well be in the mix in the knockout stages thanks to a front eight that can rival anything in northern hemisphere club rugby.
But, like their three regional rivals, their squad has been trimmed and the increasingly strenuous international demands could mean it’s Heineken Cup only for their Welsh contingent.
A tough summer schedule, a packed autumn series and the Six Nations presents the Dragons with a real opportunity to close the gap in the Pro12.
They have pledged to benefit from blooding a host of players this season and it will be disappointing if they are not at least in a tight tussle for Heineken Cup qualification.
It hasn’t just been the Rodney Parade big wigs who have been beavering away as they attempt to secure a groundshare involving Newport RFC, the Dragons and Newport County.
The management team has been burning the midnight oil to secure signings and fine tune preparations so that they can hit the ground running in pre-season.
Victories may not solve a crisis but it would be easier tackling the issues affecting regional rugby while winning.