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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 14:27 GMT
Merging on the ridiculous
By Dave Lewis
BBC Sport

In Welsh rugby opinion is as strong as Nicaraguan coffee, so maybe that explains the spate of 'revolutions'.

This week saw more regional wranglings with the proposed merger of the Cardiff Blues and the Celtic Warriors.

The mess started when Graham Henry resigned as Wales coach after getting a sore head from banging it on a Welsh Rugby Union wall.

His successor, Steve Hansen, came in and insisted on the changes that our former "Great Redeemer" had wanted.

WRU chief executive David Moffett
By going too far, perhaps Moffo was hoping we'd settle for a reasonable solution

With the arrival of David "Hit-Man" Moffett as WRU group chief executive, things were sure to change.

Moffo had already upset more people than Maggie Thatcher, but has wrought meaningful change - something the 100-year-old WRU had been shy of.

So Moffo - who knew what he was doing and got our ball moving, so to speak - proposed four regions, including one in north Wales.

Revolution was in the air and blood was spilled in the streets of Tonypandy (although that might have been a kebab-fuelled Valleys' scuffle).

Of course this shock move was never going to be easily digested by the free lunch blazer brigade either.

But by going too far, perhaps Moffo was hoping we'd settle for a reasonable solution to our problems somewhere close to the middle ground.

Well, the huge superpowers of the game in Wales - Llanelli and um... Cardiff, fought hard to stand alone. After all, they were better than the rest of the mere mortals.

So money and power talked and we all resigned ourselves to the fact we'd have five new teams, but not without a little snigger.

We all knew that the Warriors would have the strongest team (or so it appeared on paper), the Ospreys looked exciting and Llanelli, sorry the Scarlets, would continue to do well in Europe.

The question was whether that great coach Mike Ruddock could gel a team of "no-hopers" at the Newport Gwent Dragons - aka Gwent Dragons, aka Newport after a huge fall-out with Ebbw Vale and most of the rest of Gwent.

Why you ask? Well, the bottom Welsh team in the Celtic League would go into the European second tier Parker Pen Cup of course - and the task was to finish above everyone's "favourite" Cardiff.

Darren Crompton gets his Blues shirt from chief executive Bob Norster
A merged team would give the marketing men another kit to sell

Now, we are not going to talk about supermarkets and leases at Bridgend, or hospitality boxes at Sardis Road, or even M4 corridor dictatorships and collapsing Valleys dominos but...

It's a hell of a coincidence that the worst performing region in Wales wants to combine with the biggest player base region, who have alienated their fan base so they can make more money sewing badges on yet more jerseys.

So what does El Supremo think? Well, Moffo says he backs the merger. Strange times indeed.

Will this mean that next season we'll have the Scarlets merging with the Ospreys and the Cardiff Celtic Blues and Black Warrior Ravens merging with the Newport Gwent Dragons in a race to be the biggest and best amalgamation in our tiny third-world rugby country?

Where will it end? I can see the future now...

Wales' new region - Wales - will enter the Zurich Premiership in place of Rothertham, although national captain Colin Charvis still won't get a regional contract...




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