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  • "
    pettsy wrote:
    Newport. Newport Newport. Blah blah. wonder regional rugby never took off in Gwent
    It took off in Newport though, until all this Gwent politics wrecked it. It was even attracting more support from the wider Gwent area than the present set up! Still now everyone can share in the sub-mediocrity of the Dragons idea. Well done.
    It either has to be one thing or the other, either a complete regional entity, divorced from any Newport input funded by ALL the clubs in the region which pays its way for use of facilities like Rodney Parade etc or it has to be a professional Newport outfit as before. Only one of those options is practical and possible."
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David Moffett faces the Pontypool 'naysayers' as he plots WRU return

First published in Sport
Last updated
Free Press Series: Photograph of the Author by

THE latest member of Pontypool RFC could never be accused of being afraid to, in rugby parlance, front up.

Former Welsh Rugby Union chief executive David Moffett was among the supporters left disappointed by the late postponement of Pooler's home Championship encounter with Llanharan.

"He must be here to finish us off," was the reaction of one wag to seeing the man who was at the helm at the inception of regional rugby mixing with the punters, players and officials that were sheltering from the rain.

But Moffett is one of them now – on Saturday he became a fully paid-up member of Pontypool.

He may not have kissed any babies but the 66-year-old did press a lot of flesh as he embarks on a bid to win election to the WRU board and settle the spat between the Union and the regions.

"The reason I came here today was to talk to all of the naysayers," he said while standing next to Pooler's internationals honours board.

"I don't expect people to pat me on the back, I expect them to be honest with me as I am with them.

"I want them to tell me what they don't like; the fact they didn't like about me and that they didn't like (the introduction of) regional rugby. I wanted to show my face because I don't run away from anything."

The Pooler viewpoint appeared to be that while they might not agree with Moffett, at least he involved them in the debate and came to their patch to hear what supporters have to say.

He arrived back in Wales last Wednesday pledging to return to the corridors of power at the Millennium Stadium and sort out the mess surrounding funding and cross-border competitions.

It seems a long shot to say the least but Moffett doesn't appear to mind being the underdog.

"I am fed up with all of the almost annual discord in Welsh rugby," he said. "It is a disgrace and somebody has got to provide a different way of doing things.

"I think I can do that. At the moment I am outside the tent but I have come to see if I can get a board position and take it from there, because the way things are being managed – or should I say mismanaged – is no good for Welsh rugby or world rugby.

"I have every intention of getting back in and I don't give up. I am making a bit of noise and there are certain people scurrying around thinking that they might have to do things differently, so we'll see.

"I'd like to be on the inside because I think I could sort this in 10 days."

Moffett has written to all of the WRU's member clubs outlining how he intends to bring the Union and the regions together.

He said: "The WRU has all the control it wants apart from the players, that gate was shut in 1995 and the regions won't give it up because otherwise what have they got?

"However, there is a better way of doing it and I would work with the regions to get there because Welsh rugby cannot compete with France and England on its own because there isn't enough money.

"The Welsh Rugby Union, for whatever reason, has decided to pay off debt way, way faster than the deal I did with Barclays. They've accelerated the repayment and kept the game poor.

"Finally, you cannot have a company that expects all of the suppliers to take a risk and they take all of the reward. It doesn't work.

"The Union is saying we'll take all the reward and the regions and clubs – like Pontypool – take all the risk. That's not good enough and that needs to change.

"The only way to do that is with a transparent, honest, mutually respectful partnership, not the toxic partnership there is at the moment where nobody trusts anyone else and nobody will speak to anyone.

"It's got to stop and it's got to stop now."

But Moffett, who had a short spell as the chief executive of Regional Rugby Wales, certainly doesn't believe that Newport Gwent Dragons, the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys are blameless.

"There has been unprecedented success at international level since 2003 thanks to the regions, benefactors and, most importantly, the players," he said. "There hasn't been the same success on the European club stage and the regions are at fault.

"The future is regions but the whole issue of regionalisation has to be redefined – there should have been an evolution in the 10 years of regional rugby and that has not happened.

"Now we need to have a look at how it isn't working and turn it around. Can I do that? I have to be given the chance."

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