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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 11:13 GMT
Moffett leaves with dire warning
David Moffett
Departing Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive David Moffett has delivered a bleak message on the future of the professional game in Europe.

He says the professional sport will be dead in the Celtic nations within five years, and that major problems are brewing for England and France.

"The biggest disappointment of my time here is the refusal to change the structure in Europe," said Moffett.

"England and France are blocking it but they follow the flawed soccer model."

Ill health has forced Moffett to leave his post - he goes at the end of 2005 - and he will move to New Zealand, but he believe he knows the solution to the problems in the northern hemisphere.

If rugby keeps going the way it is it will be played professionally in only five countries
David Moffett
"The answer for us [in Wales] is central contracting," he said.

"There is so much opposition [from the Welsh regions] and I simply don't know why.

"It's not something we're trying to do to help the WRU, it's a matter of doing what's best for the country with a small player base.

"Maybe we'll see it introduced when the so-called benefactors get sick of losing money.

"If rugby keeps going the way it is it will be played professionally in only five countries - England, France, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

"English and French clubs will continue to rape and pillage the world's best players and in a few years we will discover they have no-one left to play.

Gareth Thomas celebrates Wales' win over Australia
Wales' win over Australia is one of Moffett's best memories
"You look at the make-up of the teams in the Heineken Cup from France and England - how many local players do they have?

"English and French clubs are intent on doing what they think is right for them, they have no interest in the wider game at all because they think they can replicate soccer.

"Soccer is a fundamentally flawed model. How many soccer clubs make money?

"The club owners think that more games equals more money, but the most valuable tournament in the northern hemisphere is the Six Nations, which generates 45million a year over seven weeks before gates and sponsorship.

"Less is more. The most valuable sports competition in the world is the NFL in American Football - they play 13 weeks."

Moffett's ideal set-up would be a pan-European league, divided into conferences and organised by European Rugby Cup, who currently run the Heineken Cup and Challenge Cup.

Despite his frustrations, Moffett says he leaves his post with three great memories - Wales' Grand Slam triumph, the successful management of the WRU's vast debt, and Saturday's 24-22 victory over Australia.




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