Fans risk losing rugby as a national sport, Pontypool warns after no confidence vote

POOLER corporate director Ben Jeffreys has warned that fans risk losing rugby as a national sport as the Welsh Rugby Union saw off a no confidence vote.

Mr Jeffreys spoke out after the governing body survived the vote of no confidence at an extraordinary general meeting in Port Talbot on Sunday.

Thirty nine clubs out of almost 500 had backed calls for an extraordinary meeting but only four - including Pontypool RFC - voted no.

Mr Jeffreys, 25, said: “The fact is that the club game has not found its place in the market since the formation of the regions.

“It’s left the club game facing a real identity crisis in connecting with tomorrow's supporter.

“The game is in such disarray and we run a very big risk of losing rugby as our national sport to football.

“I voted based on the feedback I have received from our members and volunteers and I could not look them in the eye again had I not stood up for what I felt was right.”

One resolution voted on alleged the WRU board of directors had not been acting in the best interests of Welsh rugby, while a second had called for a vote of no confidence in the current board.

Former WRU chief executive David Moffett had driven the protest.

A number of issues raised by protesting clubs under the first resolution were highlighted by proposed league restructuring.

The WRU has agreed to hold a ballot of all clubs to reach an agreement on whether a proposed new national league structure of the amateur game will go ahead, or whether the existing structure will be retained for next season.

WRU chairman David Pickering said after the meeting: “Today there has been an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Welsh Rugby Union.

“The clubs of Welsh rugby have exercised their constitutional right to question the governing body, and we have taken part in a full and frank debate.

“Welsh rugby is continuing to evolve, and now we must work together to make sure we build on our successes of the past and face up to our challenges of the future.”

But Mr Jeffreys added: “Unless there is change the club game is going to die a prolonged death.

“We are not connecting with people emotively in the way we need to.

“From discussions I've had over two years, club supporters are absolutely sick to death with the way the game is being run.

“They are disenfranchised, attendances are dipping and volunteer participation in the game has fallen.

“All clubs have different requirements and I respect the outcome of the vote and their democratic right, however I do not feel yesterday's outcome represents the true feeling within Welsh rugby and for that I feel the game will feel the effects of this outcome for years to come.”

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