PONTYPOOL RFC legend Graham Price has backed the Pooler campaign to save and resurrect the marginalised club game in Wales – saying Welsh rugby has “lost its soul”.
The former Wales, British Lions and Barbarian star said there was a time when the club structure in Wales was the “envy of the world”.
He said it was “the reason the national team was so successful”.
“But now it is in spite of that,” added the Pontypool RFC club president.
“It’s very difficult these days, especially for someone like myself who knew the great days of Welsh club rugby, to be excited, or interested even, by what it has become today.
“The club game was built on tradition – tradition built up over 100 years before. There was strong infrastructure in place and teams of all levels, from top to juniors, thrived.
“But when Moffett came in with the regions he threw that history out the window, without any real affinity.
“It was an accounting exercise as much as anything and the way we are struggling now shows it hasn’t worked in my opinion.
“Welsh club rugby has lost its soul.”
Mr Price, part of the legendary Pontypool Front Row with Bobby Windsor and Tony Faulkner, also called on WRU chief Roger Lewis to come good on his promise to attend a game at Pontypool Park.
“It needs to be for the right reasons too,” he added.
“I think Roger Lewis is too concerned with the shop window, and how things look. Not how they really are.
“There needs to be more genuine communication with supporters and clubs at a grassroots level.”
He also said there is nothing for the club’s to aspire to today.
“The prestige has gone,” said Mr Price, capped 41 times for Wales at prop forward. “There is no sense or significance in local derbies these days - that was the lifeblood of Welsh club rugby.
“By comparison, lower level English clubs have much better facilities and infrastructure than the Welsh these days.
“That is something I am envious of for Pooler.
“In the amateur days every single club, and every level within those clubs, was strong. Anyone could go play top sides anywhere, be it at Bath or Leicester and come away favourably, as we did regularly.
“We had Welsh players who would be regulars for the Lions, but second string for the Welsh national team. That’s how strong it was.
“But in those days the WRU did little more than organise the international fixtures and the AGM.
“The club’s controlled their own destinies.
“But now the WRU want to control everything.”