Dragons chief confirms Aviva Premiership is an option for regions

TV DEBATE: Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies

TV DEBATE: Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies

First published in Latest Rugby

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies has admitted that playing in an Anglo-Welsh League is an option if no agreement is reached in the dispute between the four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

The possibility of participation in such a competition has been rumoured but when pushed during a BBC Wales debate on the crisis in Welsh rugby he confirmed that it was a course of action being considered.

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis, however, told the audience: “The Union will not allow the regions to play in the Aviva Premiership.”

The regions, Dragons, Scarlets, Ospreys and Blues, want to play in a new European competition next season, the Rugby Champions Cup, rather than the Heineken Cup – an initiative being driven by the top English clubs. And they are unhappy with the commercial benefits of staying in the RaboDirect Pro12, unsure of who will sponsor it in the future.

The Union, however, is committed to both the Heineken Cup and the Pro 12.

In a lively debate, in which Davies was also representing the other regions, there appeared to be little sign of the warring parties coming together. Although there are more talks planned for tomorrow.

Both sides agreed that there was a crisis in European rugby with Davies stressing that in terms of finance the French were sprinting ahead with huge commercial deals.

He also stressed that there had to be “collaboration” between the parties for a solution to be found, not the “master and servant relationship.”

On the subject of central contracts, Lewis told the audience that the WRU could find extra money to keep the remaining top talent in Wales, if agreement could be reached. He said the money would come from “our relationship with key partners.”

Former WRU chief executive David Moffett was in the audience and said he could sort out the problem because of his greater knowledge of central contracting.

“You either have everyone on a central contract or no one,” he said.

Comments (18)

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9:27pm Sun 19 Jan 14

Port0214 says...

Regional Rugby has been a failure of epic proportions, we need a British and Irish pyramid league and we needed it 10 years ago.
Regional Rugby has been a failure of epic proportions, we need a British and Irish pyramid league and we needed it 10 years ago. Port0214
  • Score: 7

10:35pm Sun 19 Jan 14

SWBorderer says...

Can't see them agreeing on what day it is.
Can't see them agreeing on what day it is. SWBorderer
  • Score: 5

11:28pm Sun 19 Jan 14

Mr Bump. says...

What a clown Moffett is. I hope that idiot is kept out of the WRU, he ruined things 11 years ago. Don't let the fool do it again. As for the regions, you made your bed, lie in it, you ungrateful bunch of losers.
What a clown Moffett is. I hope that idiot is kept out of the WRU, he ruined things 11 years ago. Don't let the fool do it again. As for the regions, you made your bed, lie in it, you ungrateful bunch of losers. Mr Bump.
  • Score: -10

12:07am Mon 20 Jan 14

Magoo30 says...

I regional rugby has been a failure for the following reasons.
1. No away support unless it is the infrequent local derbies. Top Irish sides like Leinster or Munster playing at Rodney Parade means 200 or 300 away fans. Leicester, Gloucester, Bath etc. would probably bring 2 or 3 thousand supporters for a competitive league match. You could expect capacity crowds for such matches.
2. No relegation. Teams (especially the Irish) are complacent about their positions and frequently play below strength sides in the league whilst resting players for Heinekin Cup matches.
3. Cost to regions of playing away fixtures in various countries. Compare cost of playing Zebre away against playing London Wasps away!
4. Heinekin cup allocations. No wonder the English and French do not like it. Automatic entry for two Italian and two Scottish sides wherever they finish in the League. Highest place top three from Wales and Ireland guaranteed Heinekin cup entry. This means minimum representation from the Rabo Pro12 is 10, whilst I believe it is 6 or 7 each from the English and French Leagues. A few years ago Newport Gwent Dragons finished seventh in the league but because they were fourth best Welsh side had to play in the Amlyn whilst the five sides below them in the league all played in the Heinekin Cup. This is a ridiculous situation and should be addressed.The two Scottish and Italian sides gained entry by automatic right and Connacht because one of the Irish sides had won the Heinekin cup the previous season.

The sooner a genuine cross border competition between English and Welsh teams the better all round in my opinion. This might not be what the Irish, Scottish and Italian sides want to hear but our concern must be for the Welsh game before it is too late. Wales have had recent success as a a nation and this is despite the league system, not because of it.
I regional rugby has been a failure for the following reasons. 1. No away support unless it is the infrequent local derbies. Top Irish sides like Leinster or Munster playing at Rodney Parade means 200 or 300 away fans. Leicester, Gloucester, Bath etc. would probably bring 2 or 3 thousand supporters for a competitive league match. You could expect capacity crowds for such matches. 2. No relegation. Teams (especially the Irish) are complacent about their positions and frequently play below strength sides in the league whilst resting players for Heinekin Cup matches. 3. Cost to regions of playing away fixtures in various countries. Compare cost of playing Zebre away against playing London Wasps away! 4. Heinekin cup allocations. No wonder the English and French do not like it. Automatic entry for two Italian and two Scottish sides wherever they finish in the League. Highest place top three from Wales and Ireland guaranteed Heinekin cup entry. This means minimum representation from the Rabo Pro12 is 10, whilst I believe it is 6 or 7 each from the English and French Leagues. A few years ago Newport Gwent Dragons finished seventh in the league but because they were fourth best Welsh side had to play in the Amlyn whilst the five sides below them in the league all played in the Heinekin Cup. This is a ridiculous situation and should be addressed.The two Scottish and Italian sides gained entry by automatic right and Connacht because one of the Irish sides had won the Heinekin cup the previous season. The sooner a genuine cross border competition between English and Welsh teams the better all round in my opinion. This might not be what the Irish, Scottish and Italian sides want to hear but our concern must be for the Welsh game before it is too late. Wales have had recent success as a a nation and this is despite the league system, not because of it. Magoo30
  • Score: 16

1:02am Mon 20 Jan 14

Charles Street says...

An Anglo-Welsh league is clearly the preferred option of the vast majority of supporters I know, as is a long overdue return to Black and Amber and Newport back where it should be as the pro side at Rodney Parade. The irony of being regionallly 'inclusive' is that we include less people and have lost more support than we gained. Chris Kirwan recently described the Dragons idea as a 'mishmash' and he's right. If the WRU come out on top in this battle it won't matter anyway, as there will soon be no professional rugby left here.
An Anglo-Welsh league is clearly the preferred option of the vast majority of supporters I know, as is a long overdue return to Black and Amber and Newport back where it should be as the pro side at Rodney Parade. The irony of being regionallly 'inclusive' is that we include less people and have lost more support than we gained. Chris Kirwan recently described the Dragons idea as a 'mishmash' and he's right. If the WRU come out on top in this battle it won't matter anyway, as there will soon be no professional rugby left here. Charles Street
  • Score: 5

6:52am Mon 20 Jan 14

SWBorderer says...

Roger Lewis offers nothing, he cannot guarantee any competitions next season so he dangles the carrot of paying the wages of half a dozen players in the hope that he can appeal to the greed of a couple of regions and split them apart. Be honest, would you buy a second hand car from that man.
Moffat should have been refused entry at the border, l agree with what he said about central contracts but he dreamt up this mess of so called regional rugby when so many of us new it wouldn't work.
I can't see the Anglo Welsh as an option because how can we expect to place four teams in a premiere league when we don't have one that deserves to be there. The English clubs as a whole will not accept it and l don't blame them.
l can only see a revertion to clubs on a semi pro basis in a domestic league with some clubs applying to join the English system and work their way through their leagues. It will be a slow process but our game is rock bottom at the moment and it has to be rebuilt slowly to be sustainable.
Now we'll win the Grand Slam and prove me wrong ..... l hope.
Roger Lewis offers nothing, he cannot guarantee any competitions next season so he dangles the carrot of paying the wages of half a dozen players in the hope that he can appeal to the greed of a couple of regions and split them apart. Be honest, would you buy a second hand car from that man. Moffat should have been refused entry at the border, l agree with what he said about central contracts but he dreamt up this mess of so called regional rugby when so many of us new it wouldn't work. I can't see the Anglo Welsh as an option because how can we expect to place four teams in a premiere league when we don't have one that deserves to be there. The English clubs as a whole will not accept it and l don't blame them. l can only see a revertion to clubs on a semi pro basis in a domestic league with some clubs applying to join the English system and work their way through their leagues. It will be a slow process but our game is rock bottom at the moment and it has to be rebuilt slowly to be sustainable. Now we'll win the Grand Slam and prove me wrong ..... l hope. SWBorderer
  • Score: 3

9:01am Mon 20 Jan 14

East Newport Dave says...

I wouldn't let Moffett anywhere near this. He is the one responsible for creating the regional mess in the first place. It was poorly conceived with little thought or sensitivity to the needs of Welsh rugby.
I wouldn't let Moffett anywhere near this. He is the one responsible for creating the regional mess in the first place. It was poorly conceived with little thought or sensitivity to the needs of Welsh rugby. East Newport Dave
  • Score: 2

10:07am Mon 20 Jan 14

Dai Trying says...

Love them or hate them regions are the only way forward in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and if you want a British league then England will have to adopt a similar regional system. The reason, their current club structure is bound together within their pyramid system and relagation/promotion
.

Start work on it now, RFU to form regions using their huge financial resources to form 6 regions. Then you have two leagues of 8 teams, top 4 in each to form playoffs and grand final. Simple !!!
Love them or hate them regions are the only way forward in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and if you want a British league then England will have to adopt a similar regional system. The reason, their current club structure is bound together within their pyramid system and relagation/promotion . Start work on it now, RFU to form regions using their huge financial resources to form 6 regions. Then you have two leagues of 8 teams, top 4 in each to form playoffs and grand final. Simple !!! Dai Trying
  • Score: -5

10:10am Mon 20 Jan 14

Dai Trying says...

Oh and one more thing, all teams will only be allowed to play up to 3 non nationals at any one time. Each team also to have the same player budget, now that sounds like a level playing field.
Oh and one more thing, all teams will only be allowed to play up to 3 non nationals at any one time. Each team also to have the same player budget, now that sounds like a level playing field. Dai Trying
  • Score: 2

11:31am Mon 20 Jan 14

Ollie254 says...

Go cross border regions or professional rugby in Wales will wither and die. Ignore the WRU and definitely do not allow Moffett anywhere near rugby in Wales again. This is a mess of his making and yes he may understand business but he doesn't understand Welsh loyalty to their teams hence lack of support for the regional teams.
Go cross border regions or professional rugby in Wales will wither and die. Ignore the WRU and definitely do not allow Moffett anywhere near rugby in Wales again. This is a mess of his making and yes he may understand business but he doesn't understand Welsh loyalty to their teams hence lack of support for the regional teams. Ollie254
  • Score: 2

11:38am Mon 20 Jan 14

Newport76 says...

I actually think that David Moffat could probably resolve the problems. He is just the sort of forthright and straight talking sort of bloke that could get things done. HOWEVER, I wouldn't let him anywhere near Welsh Rugby again after the shambles that he created back (when was it?) 2003.
I actually think that David Moffat could probably resolve the problems. He is just the sort of forthright and straight talking sort of bloke that could get things done. HOWEVER, I wouldn't let him anywhere near Welsh Rugby again after the shambles that he created back (when was it?) 2003. Newport76
  • Score: 2

11:58am Mon 20 Jan 14

Newport76 says...

We cannot burn our bridges with Ireland, Scotland and Italy. Say the 4 Welsh Regions did join the Aviva Premiership and say the Dragons finished bottom (which they could!), do they get relegated to the Championship? Playing the likes of Leeds, Plymouth Albion, Moseley and Ealing all of a sudden doesn't sound that attractive. that is a serious possibility as I can't see the RFU ringfencing the Premiership, there would be total uproar!! One by one the Welsh Regions would get relegated from the Premiership and into oblivion.
We cannot burn our bridges with Ireland, Scotland and Italy. Say the 4 Welsh Regions did join the Aviva Premiership and say the Dragons finished bottom (which they could!), do they get relegated to the Championship? Playing the likes of Leeds, Plymouth Albion, Moseley and Ealing all of a sudden doesn't sound that attractive. that is a serious possibility as I can't see the RFU ringfencing the Premiership, there would be total uproar!! One by one the Welsh Regions would get relegated from the Premiership and into oblivion. Newport76
  • Score: 3

12:41pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Dai Trying says...

Moffat didn't create the mess, the people who are supposed to run the regions did that, and a very good job they did of it. Moffat gave them all a blank canvas and as yet they haven't even bothered to pick up the brushes. Get on with it.
Moffat didn't create the mess, the people who are supposed to run the regions did that, and a very good job they did of it. Moffat gave them all a blank canvas and as yet they haven't even bothered to pick up the brushes. Get on with it. Dai Trying
  • Score: 3

12:55pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Euwan Usami says...

Couple of truths in all this I think ; you have to follow the money to survive. I agree with Moffat on that. The other less popular idea is there is no way back from a regional system.

You can revert to the old names and call them super clubs if you want (How this would work with the Ospreys though is anyone's guess!) But there is no way the WRU can support 12 pro sides in Wales.

The regional /international differences in success are easy to explain also imo, while our best players are playing in the best leagues, the regions are forced to develop youngsters like Toby and Dan. This is all good for the international side. They have the opposite problem in France where there are no opportunities for their home grown talents as all the key positions are held by foreigners, therefor this has a detrimental effect on their nation side. So I think it's perfectly possible for us to have a competitive Welsh team regardless of the state of the regions. The WRU may think this way too.

One thing is for sure, they need to get RL out of the picture. He is a RP disaster and rubs everyone up the wrong way.
Couple of truths in all this I think ; you have to follow the money to survive. I agree with Moffat on that. The other less popular idea is there is no way back from a regional system. You can revert to the old names and call them super clubs if you want (How this would work with the Ospreys though is anyone's guess!) But there is no way the WRU can support 12 pro sides in Wales. The regional /international differences in success are easy to explain also imo, while our best players are playing in the best leagues, the regions are forced to develop youngsters like Toby and Dan. This is all good for the international side. They have the opposite problem in France where there are no opportunities for their home grown talents as all the key positions are held by foreigners, therefor this has a detrimental effect on their nation side. So I think it's perfectly possible for us to have a competitive Welsh team regardless of the state of the regions. The WRU may think this way too. One thing is for sure, they need to get RL out of the picture. He is a RP disaster and rubs everyone up the wrong way. Euwan Usami
  • Score: 7

12:58pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Euwan Usami says...

Euwan Usami wrote:
Couple of truths in all this I think ; you have to follow the money to survive. I agree with Moffat on that. The other less popular idea is there is no way back from a regional system.

You can revert to the old names and call them super clubs if you want (How this would work with the Ospreys though is anyone's guess!) But there is no way the WRU can support 12 pro sides in Wales.

The regional /international differences in success are easy to explain also imo, while our best players are playing in the best leagues, the regions are forced to develop youngsters like Toby and Dan. This is all good for the international side. They have the opposite problem in France where there are no opportunities for their home grown talents as all the key positions are held by foreigners, therefor this has a detrimental effect on their nation side. So I think it's perfectly possible for us to have a competitive Welsh team regardless of the state of the regions. The WRU may think this way too.

One thing is for sure, they need to get RL out of the picture. He is a RP disaster and rubs everyone up the wrong way.
RP = PR (Makes more sense now) ;)
[quote][p][bold]Euwan Usami[/bold] wrote: Couple of truths in all this I think ; you have to follow the money to survive. I agree with Moffat on that. The other less popular idea is there is no way back from a regional system. You can revert to the old names and call them super clubs if you want (How this would work with the Ospreys though is anyone's guess!) But there is no way the WRU can support 12 pro sides in Wales. The regional /international differences in success are easy to explain also imo, while our best players are playing in the best leagues, the regions are forced to develop youngsters like Toby and Dan. This is all good for the international side. They have the opposite problem in France where there are no opportunities for their home grown talents as all the key positions are held by foreigners, therefor this has a detrimental effect on their nation side. So I think it's perfectly possible for us to have a competitive Welsh team regardless of the state of the regions. The WRU may think this way too. One thing is for sure, they need to get RL out of the picture. He is a RP disaster and rubs everyone up the wrong way.[/p][/quote]RP = PR (Makes more sense now) ;) Euwan Usami
  • Score: 3

8:13pm Mon 20 Jan 14

ollie72 says...

I would love to see a league system with 6 English, 4 Welsh, 4 Irish and 2 Scottish regions, but would have to rely on the RFU creating 6 regional teams (otherwise, how would you pick which 6 make it in to the league?). I would pick South West, 2 x South East (due to the number of top flight clubs there), Midlands, North West and North East. Better for the English - talent concentrated in to 6 teams - and a great level of competition for all.

You then start to create new rivalries for the Dragons - would be great to take the relatively short trip to see Dragons at South West or Midlands region, as well as our existing derbies.

Extra games = extra revenue = better chance at financial stability
I would love to see a league system with 6 English, 4 Welsh, 4 Irish and 2 Scottish regions, but would have to rely on the RFU creating 6 regional teams (otherwise, how would you pick which 6 make it in to the league?). I would pick South West, 2 x South East (due to the number of top flight clubs there), Midlands, North West and North East. Better for the English - talent concentrated in to 6 teams - and a great level of competition for all. You then start to create new rivalries for the Dragons - would be great to take the relatively short trip to see Dragons at South West or Midlands region, as well as our existing derbies. Extra games = extra revenue = better chance at financial stability ollie72
  • Score: -4

8:21pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Welshman76 says...

All parties have relevant points!
The regional system is the best solution based on the quality of players produced in wales and the money that is available.
Although there are many that think we should play in an Anglo league, it won't work as has been pointed out with the English pyramid system and the fact their league is strong compared to the rabo, etc. All rabo teams should have to qualify regardless of country without their participation ring fenced. How can teams below others be allowed to compete in the more prestigious competition when they have proved that they can't cut it in their own league.
The regions need to be given the best opportunities for revenue and if another European competition can do this then the WRU need to support them.
We need to keep our best players as that's who the fans want to see at games. Younger fans want to go to see the likes of Faletau, warburton, halfpenny etc. and they are the future season ticket holders who are growing up knowing only regional rugby and won't be too bothered by all the acrimony that arose when the regions were set up.
Moffat is correct in saying that if central contracts are to be introduced, it's all or no one. How can you have only some players financed out of a base of about 40 international players? It won't work!
Wales also needs a proper 'a' side to allow fringe players to have a taste of international experience. Why not play tonga, USA etc during the autumn internationals at a regional ground with the 'a' side on a Friday before the test side play on a Saturday against South Africa, Australia or the all blacks? Price the tickets reasonably for these games and fans will go and it means fitting all the test games in the international window over 3 consecutive with our overseas players available.
There is a lot of disharmony and mistrust but it is an opportunity to sort things out and move forward with stronger regions and a stronger international side.
All parties have relevant points! The regional system is the best solution based on the quality of players produced in wales and the money that is available. Although there are many that think we should play in an Anglo league, it won't work as has been pointed out with the English pyramid system and the fact their league is strong compared to the rabo, etc. All rabo teams should have to qualify regardless of country without their participation ring fenced. How can teams below others be allowed to compete in the more prestigious competition when they have proved that they can't cut it in their own league. The regions need to be given the best opportunities for revenue and if another European competition can do this then the WRU need to support them. We need to keep our best players as that's who the fans want to see at games. Younger fans want to go to see the likes of Faletau, warburton, halfpenny etc. and they are the future season ticket holders who are growing up knowing only regional rugby and won't be too bothered by all the acrimony that arose when the regions were set up. Moffat is correct in saying that if central contracts are to be introduced, it's all or no one. How can you have only some players financed out of a base of about 40 international players? It won't work! Wales also needs a proper 'a' side to allow fringe players to have a taste of international experience. Why not play tonga, USA etc during the autumn internationals at a regional ground with the 'a' side on a Friday before the test side play on a Saturday against South Africa, Australia or the all blacks? Price the tickets reasonably for these games and fans will go and it means fitting all the test games in the international window over 3 consecutive with our overseas players available. There is a lot of disharmony and mistrust but it is an opportunity to sort things out and move forward with stronger regions and a stronger international side. Welshman76
  • Score: 9

10:02pm Tue 21 Jan 14

DaiFrank says...

Charles Street wrote:
An Anglo-Welsh league is clearly the preferred option of the vast majority of supporters I know, as is a long overdue return to Black and Amber and Newport back where it should be as the pro side at Rodney Parade. The irony of being regionallly 'inclusive' is that we include less people and have lost more support than we gained. Chris Kirwan recently described the Dragons idea as a 'mishmash' and he's right. If the WRU come out on top in this battle it won't matter anyway, as there will soon be no professional rugby left here.
Would not disagree with your sentiments at all. The regional experiment has been a mitigating disaster and no more has this been true than at Newport in terms of name, etc., with the exception of finances which compared to the rest are relatively good because of economic prudence. It was in my view always doomed to collapse, which is the reason I refused to wander over to RP since 2005. With Cardiff essentially putting two fingers up to regionalism, with a return to their traditional colours and openly called Cardiff, there is on principle alone no option other than Newport to follow suit. The current CEO once spoke of finding the right 'brand' at RP. I prefer to use the word 'identity', based on history and culture and not 'brand' with a nod to commercialisation alone. Although I do favour the clubs having more control over their own affiars, and hence a degree of free market practice over the 'statism' of the WRU (and the Irish) this does not mean that the clubs should not act responsibly to maintain what has almost been relegated to a meaningless concept in sport and that is 'tradition'. This can be achieved.
I notice that the Ospreys have played twice now in a 'white' kit. I could be reading more into this than is warranted, but ....?
[quote][p][bold]Charles Street[/bold] wrote: An Anglo-Welsh league is clearly the preferred option of the vast majority of supporters I know, as is a long overdue return to Black and Amber and Newport back where it should be as the pro side at Rodney Parade. The irony of being regionallly 'inclusive' is that we include less people and have lost more support than we gained. Chris Kirwan recently described the Dragons idea as a 'mishmash' and he's right. If the WRU come out on top in this battle it won't matter anyway, as there will soon be no professional rugby left here.[/p][/quote]Would not disagree with your sentiments at all. The regional experiment has been a mitigating disaster and no more has this been true than at Newport in terms of name, etc., with the exception of finances which compared to the rest are relatively good because of economic prudence. It was in my view always doomed to collapse, which is the reason I refused to wander over to RP since 2005. With Cardiff essentially putting two fingers up to regionalism, with a return to their traditional colours and openly called Cardiff, there is on principle alone no option other than Newport to follow suit. The current CEO once spoke of finding the right 'brand' at RP. I prefer to use the word 'identity', based on history and culture and not 'brand' with a nod to commercialisation alone. Although I do favour the clubs having more control over their own affiars, and hence a degree of free market practice over the 'statism' of the WRU (and the Irish) this does not mean that the clubs should not act responsibly to maintain what has almost been relegated to a meaningless concept in sport and that is 'tradition'. This can be achieved. I notice that the Ospreys have played twice now in a 'white' kit. I could be reading more into this than is warranted, but ....? DaiFrank
  • Score: 5

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