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Page last updated at 07:15 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 08:15 UK

WRU considers north Wales region

WRU boss Roger Lewis
WRU boss Roger Lewis says he regrets the Celtic Warriors' demise

Boss Roger Lewis says the Welsh Rugby Union is actively considering plans to establish a fifth Welsh rugby region.

The Union's decision to cull the Celtic Warriors in 2004 remains hugely controversial in Wales.

But should a fifth region return it is unlikely to be in the south Wales valleys, north Wales favourites to host a team intended as a development side.

"We are working with north Wales to see if we can put in place a development region," Lewis told the Western Mail.

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"And we have to explore other opportunities in Wales as well.

"If I could put the clock back, I would certainly not have disbanded the Celtic Warriors," added Lewis, who admitted that a fifth region would mean a "financial risk" for the Union, who remain heavily in debt.

The issue has remained the hottest of topics in Welsh rugby since then-WRU boss David Moffett oversaw the demise of the Warriors side.

That move left the valleys hotbed without a fully professional team and alienated many supporters.

The WRU claimed at the time that Wales could not support five teams, neither financially nor with playing talent.

Wales coach Warren Gatland put the subject back on the agenda on Tuesday, when he told BBC Radio Wales' Sportstime show that he would welcome a fifth region to increase competition for national places.

"It's something that we and the WRU have got to consider," said Gatland.

"When I was back in New Zealand, they were talking about the lack of depth and the number of New Zealand players that have left the country.

"I said to them: 'Imagine only having four Super 14 teams and seven of the players in each team being foreigners. That's what I have got to select the Welsh team from.

"We have to look at reducing the numbers of non-Welsh qualified players over the next three or four years, but I fully understand the pressure the regions are under to get results.

"If we had a development region and if we sent our youngsters there it would make sense."

Gatland cited the example of Australia, who started with the New South Wales Waratahs and Queensland Reds before successfully developing the ACT Brumbies and - more recently - Western Force.


see also
WRU axe falls on Warriors
01 Jun 04 |  Welsh
Valleys wasteland envisaged
19 May 04 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Magners Celtic League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
WRU Challenge Cup archive
12 Jul 06 |  Welsh
Welsh Premiership
11 Apr 07 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales


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