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Sunday, 28 April, 2002, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Should rugby become a political football?
Rhodri Morgan graphic
Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan has demanded major changes in the structure of rugby in Wales as he thinks that bad results are affecting the morale of the nation.

Calling for a "complete restructure", Mr Morgan defended his decision to get involved by saying the situation was upsetting people's day-to-day lives.

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During his tirade, the first minister ordered that radical proposals suggested by Sir Tasker Watkins should be adopted lock, stock and barrel.

This move would see the end of the WRU General Committee and professional executives put in their place.

Should Rhodri Morgan have become involved in the debate? Do rugby defeats affect the mood of the nation? Do you agree that the WRU General Committee should be demolished?

This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your views are published below

I am glad that Mr Morgan has come in and expressed the views of the entire Welsh nation. I am 38 and love my country and love my rugby, and love the Welsh team with a passion second to none. But we are in trouble and need sorting out before we lose our national game for ever. We are now in the professional era and need a structure that will sort it out. We have some of the best players in the world - it's time to make us proud again and sort this out.
Haydn John Evans, Wales

If being defeated at a sport affects the mood of a nation, it's a pretty sad nation.
Kevin B., Brit in US

Would a nation's prospects improve if its rugby players applied their skills to politics?
Chris B, England

Keep politics out of sport. Look at the mess they make when they get involved - Wembley, Picketts Lock, 3bn in unallocated Lottery Sports Fund, European Athletics bid, etc etc. Leave sport to the sportsmen and women.
Alan King, Wales, UK

If Rhodri Morgan is right, and the Welsh are demoralised by the results of their national rugby team, then they must indeed be a shallow lot! I don't believe it for one minute and I would suggest that Morgan stops trying to be populist and gets on with his real work - whatever that may be.
Robert, Canada

Pity Rhodri Morgan cannot keep his nose out of WRU matters and devote more time to sorting out the mess this nation is in - that's what we pay him for. Perhaps he could address the farcical situation where there is millions of pounds of our money being spent in Cardiff Bay and twenty miles away in the valleys there is abject deprivation.
Don Jones, Wales

Thank God for some common sense! Rhodri's quite right to voice his concerns - just like thousands of us fans have been doing all season. It's time for the WRU to wake up and realise that their years of perks are over. A professional game needs a professional union to run the game. As for those people who are using this issue as an excuse to attack devolution - get over it! The Assembly is here to stay. Can anyone imagine President Blair even caring about this issue?
Jon B, Cymru

As an exile fed up with the barbs of English, I thoroughly agree with his involvement. Drastic measures are needed from the top. The administration has got to be "professional". I'm involved with youth coaching in Dorset and work with the Rugby Development Officer; even at this level a much more structured, planned, thought-out, analysed etc etc approach is adopted. Go for it Rhodri - really stir it up.
Rob Jones, Dorset, England

Rugby belongs to the people of Wales, not the WRU. If the sport is being mismanaged and the ruling body is doing nothing to correct it, then of course Wales's leader has the right to comment and suggest a course of action. The performance of the national team greatly affects national morale, and I am delighted that Rhodri has had the courage to wade into the debate when he knows this will attract criticism.
David Davies, Wales

Rhodri Morgan is an irrelevant figure, leading a pointless Assembly. The sooner we abolish the institution the better.
JD, United Kingdom

The Welsh Assembly is there to represent the Welsh people and rugby is one of the most important things in the life of Wales. If the Assembly can help to eject the numpties currently running the WRU then it will earn its place in the hearts of the Welsh everywhere.
Charles Moore, Scotland

Does it matter what Rhodri Morgan says or doesn't say? This collection of sinecure-holding, middle-aged men can shoot their mouths off as much as they like - they only go to demonstrate the innate impotence and needlessness of their Assembly.
Catherine, Wales

Rhodri Morgan shows a deep understanding and empathy with the mood of his country by making such comments. It is to the shame of the incumbents in the current failing WRU structure that such comments have to be made. The structure should have changed decades ago. It is a travesty that thousands of talented young players with the purest intentions to represent their country develop in a structure that is destined to fail them and Wales.
Matthew Wintle (former Wales, Llanelli and Cardiff centre), California, USA

We have a large contingent of expats living in Burlington, Ontario, and it has got to the stage where we are embarrased to watch Wales getting beaten week after week. Most of the guys couldn't agree more with Rhodri - a change at the top is long overdue, along with the restructuring of the team system in Wales. It should be country first, county second, and club last, that is if Wales wants to compete with the rest of the world.
Adrian Williams, Canada

Why on earth do people attach such importance to sports? Surely the Welsh Assembly could spend its time more constructively on matters such as health, crime, education and so on. Is this the Welsh equivalent of the Westminster foxhunting debacle - serving only to direct attention away from other, more important topics that the Government cannot - or will not - tackle?

Rugby is still a religion in Wales and when the team do badly so does the country. Of course he should speak out. He is the representitive of the Welsh people and he is expressing the feelings of most of us. It's time to get rid of the top layer of the WRU. They have failed and should go for the good of the team and of the nation.
K Brown, UK

Everyone in Wales knows that the WRU should be disbanded and replaced by people who know what they are doing. Rhodri Morgan is quite right to say what he has. The WRU have overseen the demise of Welsh rugby and their blinkered approach to the game needs to be replaced by a more open, forward-thinking approach. Graham Henry was made the scapegoat to cover up the deeper problems in Welsh rugby.
KD, Tal Y Bont

Goes to show the weighty issues that can preoccupy a "nation" the size of a parking lot. Hooray for devolution.
Alex Chiang, Australia

I think this is unbelievable. Rhodri Morgan is there to sort out the mess Welsh industry and jobs are in. The WRU Board should have the guts to leave or to sort it out themselves - not to wait for someone else to do their job for them.
Malcolm Davies, Blackwood/Wales

Should Rhodri Morgan have become involved in the debate? - Yes. Do rugby defeats affect the mood of the nation? - Yes. Do you agree that the WRU General Committee should be demolished? - Yes. It's as simple as that!
Neil, UK

Yes, he has every right to speak out - thousands of Welsh people agree. The GwladRugby website petition supporting the Watkins report had thousands of signatures, from the principality and abroad. By virtue of his position, the First Minister has a platform to speak for all the Welsh people. The state of our game IS causing distress to the nation, and it is time to get those self-serving old men who have presided over the collapse of a once-proud national team out of the WRU. Alun Michael would never have spoken up in such a way; good for you Rhodri, da iawn a dioch yn fawr!
Ross Manning, Welsh expat in England

He is no different from any any other Welsh rugby fan, ashamed and disgusted. His point of view at least will get a few people's attention. Keep talking.
Colin Richards, Canada

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See also:

08 Apr 02 | Wales
WRU chairman comes under threat
06 Apr 02 | International
Fans petition rugby chiefs to quit
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