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 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 12:14 GMT
Wales 'must look to London'

All Black great Zinzan Brooke has called for Wales to consider placing one of their proposed provincial sides in west London.

Welsh club rugby is at an all time low
Welsh club rugby is at an all time low
Speaking exclusively to BBC Sport Online, Brooke said any blueprint on the future of the game should include turning London Welsh into one of the nation's provincial powers.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive, David Moffett, has voiced his intention to scrap the current club system.

And Brooke, who admits he is dismayed by the current state of the game in Wales, said the Welsh Rugby Union needs to look east.

"I can't believe that Wales wouldn't consider placing one of their regional teams in London," he said.

"It's not as if London Welsh play in Division Six. They're in Division One. It wouldn't take much to utilise the club as a real platform on which to build.

"If Wales want to go down the provincial route that's fine. But they shouldn't ignore what having a club in London could do for Welsh rugby.

"Wales could easily host four provincial sides. And all the WRU would have to do is send another 30 of their contracted players to London.

"They would then have a club able to compete on level terms in what is the best club system in the world - the Zurich Premiership."

Provincial rugby needs a wide support base on which to prosper

Zinzan Brooke
Brooke, who played 58 Tests for New Zealand, said Wales needed to act fast if they wanted to take advantage of their new chief executive.

"I know David Moffett well and he's got what it takes to turn things around," Brooke said.

"But Wales will need to do something quickly. David's done a lot over the past few years - and he doesn't tend to hang around, so he'll want to see action and see it happen now."

The former Auckland captain also warned that any provincial system would have to work with the clubs to ensure the long-term health of the sport.

"The worry is, as we're seeing in New Zealand right now, that the provincial stars don't turn out for their clubs," he added.

"They don't get paid for that so they just don't bother.

"That means the younger players are finding it harder and harder to make the step up - because they're not getting exposed to playing with the best players.

"Provincial rugby needs a wide support base on which to prosper - it's not a be-all-and-end-all solution."


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