BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Rugby Union: Celtic  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Statistics
International
European
English
Celtic
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 20:04 GMT
Four franchises for the future
WRU group chief executive David Moffett and chairman Glanmor Griffiths
The WRU will take tenders to decide on the franchises
The Union's board has recommended four franchised regional sides as the way forward for Welsh rugby.

At its Thursday-night meeting, the board rejected the option of keeping the nine-club status quo for European and Celtic League competition.

Organisations will need to bid for the franchises, which will all be based in south Wales, covering the east, south, south-west and west.

The conclusions will be presented to the WRU's 239 member clubs at the EGM on 23 February. Only the votes of that body can implement the proposed changes in the game.

The four regional franchises will be selected by tender

David Moffett
The move towards regional teams became more likely after the club owners failed to come to terms and present their own proposals to the Union board.

However, Derrick King, the chairman of the nine Welsh Premier clubs, still believes that they will be able to come up with an alternative plan before the EGM.

We are looking for all clubs in the respective regions to participate in the running of the franchises

David Moffett
Should the regional plan go ahead, some of the greatest clubs in Welsh rugby could be left out in the cold at the highest level, with Pontypridd and Swansea seeming to be on the outside of the negotiations.

The proposed teams, comprising around 120 professional players, will compete in the Heineken Cup and Celtic League competitions.

Below that, there will be a semi-professional premier division, probably featuring the existing top-flight clubs and additions from the current first division.

"The four regional franchises will be selected by tender," Moffett said.

"The premier clubs have been unable to agree a way forward, but there has to be change.

We are trying to create here a true partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union - all 239 clubs, not two, three or nine

David Moffett
"We will be looking at a whole range of issues in developing the franchise document, and we are looking for all clubs in the respective regions to participate in the running of the franchises.

"We are trying to create here a true partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union - all 239 clubs, not two, three or nine."

The criteria for successful bidders will include key issues like facilities and marketing.

Moffett is prepared to consider single-club bids or combined ones and sees "an essential role" for the current benefactors involved with a handful of top clubs.

I know our culture is club rugby, but we have to move on

Bridgend owner Leighton Samuel
Welsh Rugby Union chairman Glanmor Griffith described the decision as "a positive step forward in the best interests of Welsh rugby."

There was also a good response from Bridgend owner Leighton Samuel and Neath chief executive Mike Cuddy.

"It's good news, no one club is bigger than three put together," Cuddy told BBC Wales.

Samuel said: "I've always said there should be four and we have to make it work.

"We've got to follow the southern hemisphere. I know our culture is club rugby, but we have to move on."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
WRU's David Moffett
"We are not asking any club to lose its identity"
Bridgend owner Leighton Samuel
"There is a mood for change"
Neath chief executive Mike Cuddy
"No one club is bigger than three put together"
Swansea chairman Roger Blyth
"We fervently feel that a franchise team must represent our area"
BBC Wales' Nick Webb
"The changes are designed to help Wales compete with the best"

Latest news

The story so far

Pundits

AUDIO VIDEO
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Celtic stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Celtic stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales