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  • "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."
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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 Sport

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.

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