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Ospreys boss Andrew Hore challenges WRU over regions

21 April 10 14:02

Ospreys boss Andrew Hore has thrown down the gauntlet to the Welsh Rugby Union over the nation's four regions.

The director of rugby thinks the governing body should encourage the regions to be more "self-sufficient" and insisting the WRU would benefit.

New Zealander Hore said: "I don't know quite know where the WRU see us, whether we're super clubs or whether we're true regions.

"And I think if we're true regions then they need to help us grow."

The relationship between the WRU and the four Welsh regions has often been volatile - as were dealings between the governing body and Wales' leading clubs prior to the launch of regional rugby in 2003.

Since then the original five regions have been whittled down to four with Celtic Warriors - originally an amalgamation of Bridgend and Pontypridd - closing down in 2004.

That left the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons and Scarlets to represent Wales in the Magners League and in Europe.

This season Scarlets coaching boss Nigel Davies caused controversy by suggesting the regional boundaries needed to be reviewed.

And in October the WRU won a summer High Court battle with the regions over the release of players to face South Africa at the Millennium Stadium in November.

Since that issue was settled Regional Rugby Wales and the WRU have signed a fresh participation agreement.

But Hore, whose relationship with Welsh rugby began in 2002 as Wales conditioning coach under fellow Kiwi Steve Hansen, believes changes are needed to the way the professional game is run and funded.

He also says relationships between his own region and the Premiership clubs within it - Swansea, Neath, Aberavon and newly-promoted Tonmawr - need to improve.

"As a region there's been some positive things that have happened off the field and we're really looking to grow our true brand," said Hore.

"We are the one true region. We pride ourselves on that and we've embraced it.

"I think, however, for it to go forward, I think at the moment the WRU need to have a look at what it wants from a region.

"Are we a super club or are we a true region? Now if we're a true region there needs to be change in the way that the game is governed between the regions and the governing body and also, probably, the finance structure.

"I think at the moment I don't know quite know where the WRU see us, whether we're super clubs of whether we're true regions.

"And I think if we're true regions then they need to help us grow.

"Helping us grow will help them grow and as a consequence potentially look at ways and means that we can be more self-sufficient.

"We can assist clubs - our local clubs - in growth. I think there needs to be a greater relationship between ourselves and the Premiership clubs and at the moment they treat us in isolation and I don't think that's healthy."

Hore also refuted the suggestion top-flight Welsh rugby has lost its hard edge since regional rugby took root.

"The fact of the matter is they're delusional if they think that regional rugby has taken Welsh rugby backwards," Hore said.

"I remember coming in 2002 up to Ebbw Vale v Ulster. There were poor facilities and a poor ground - now it's a vastly different world.

"What people have got to understand is that the rest of the world doesn't stay still just because Welsh rugby decided that they'd go regional.

"They've also got stronger as well and when I look now at what the Ospreys have and what the Blues have, for example, and I look at the new gym at the Dragons and all these kind of things - those things will come about because of regionalisation.

"And I think a lot of positive things have come out of regionalisation.

"I also remember going and watching our teams getting pumped by 50 points in European competitions so to me, where was the hard edge?

"I also remember coming here after Graham Henry finished and we were getting pumped by 50 points with an international side.

"So from where I'm sitting and the generation I'm a part of, I'd say there's probably more of a hard edge now."

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