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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 10:42 GMT
Johnson crucial for RWC - Moffett
David Moffett
Wales can make the semi-finals of the 2007 World Cup in France if they keep hold of skills coach Scott Johnson, says David Moffett.

"Scott's here until the end of the Six Nations," departing Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Moffett told the BBC.

"Then we have to collectively persuade him to stay because we know that he's in demand.

"He's very important to the team and their performance. We desperately need him for 2007."

Moffett admitted that Johnson was likely to be targeted by one of the Australian Super 14 sides, depending on who is named as the Wallabies national coach, and that there was interest from Leicester and others.

Moffett has given up his position due to ill health and he will leave for a new life in New Zealand at the end of 2005.

I still believe that we could have a north Wales regional team based in Wrexham
David Moffett

In a hard-hitting interview with BBC Sport Wales he made a staunch defence of his controversial and lively three years at the head of the national game.

"I leave regretfully but not with many regrets and I think Welsh rugby is in a better state than when I took over," said Moffett.

Contrary to rumours, he stressed that his future lay outside rugby and that he had no interest in working on the World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.

He also defended the pay-out he received for the end of his contract, stating: "The severance package was entirely in line with my contract.

"I'd like to stress just one example - the extra game I negotiated this year with New Zealand more than pays for my entire time in Welsh rugby."

Moffett restated his belief that the professional game in the northern hemisphere could be dead outside of England and France within five years unless the clubs in those countries were prepared to change their attitudes.

But his longest statements were reserved for the part he has played in bringing regional rugby to Wales, his most controversial act in his time in the job.

"There is still a long way to go in regional rugby, the fans have to be won over, we have to work to bring through Welsh youngsters and to limit the overseas players in our game," said Moffett.

"I still believe that in the future we could have a north Wales regional team based in Wrexham.

"When there is more talent coming through we could have a fifth region based there.

"You have to plan long term. Look at the southern hemisphere where Australia have just put a new Super 14 team in Perth.

"When I arrived Wales had nine professional club teams at the top level and that was clearly too many.

I always thought we'd get down to four regions, but didn't think that the Warriors would be the ones to go
David Moffett

"Australia has only just gone to four, South Africa to five, and New Zealand has five.

"At the moment Wales doesn't have enough of her own players for four regions, but that could change."

Moffett remained unrepentant over his role in the demise of the Celtic Warriors, a move that left the south Wales valleys without a professional side based in any of its towns.

"It was [ex-Warriors owner] Leighton Samuel who took them away from [Pontypridd's] Sardis Road to Bridgend, and he was the one who then wanted out of the region," said Moffett.

"I always thought we'd get down to four regions, but didn't think that the Warriors would be the ones to go.

"But it's a small core who make a lot of noise about the end of the Warriors, and when they were playing people from the valleys were not turning out to see them.

"We absolutely understand how important the valleys are to Welsh rugby, but we also know that they couldn't sustain a professional team in the modern era.

"Warriors people can support the Blues, and 45% of Cardiff's fans used to come from the valleys.

"The Blues have got to continue to be more pro-active in taking the game to the whole region."

Moffett plans to return to Wales to make his point about the Warriors in court in a forthcoming case with Samuel.

"I'm looking forward to setting the record straight," he said, in a typically barbed exit.




SEE ALSO
Moffett leaves with dire warning
28 Nov 05 |  Internationals


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