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England to win comfortably, Ireland and France to compete for 2nd / 3rd, Wales and Scotland 4th / 5th and Italy for the wooden spoon.

Hope I'm wrong but the way the Autumn matches went, the tournament could be a bit predictable.

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I fully expect Wales to be fifth , they have looked dreadful since Pivacs appointment and I am not sure I can see them improving under him. 

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2 hours ago, Pinny said:

I fully expect Wales to be fifth , they have looked dreadful since Pivacs appointment and I am not sure I can see them improving under him. 

I think it just goes to show how good they were under Warren Gatland, totally punching above their weight. Grand Slams, Six Nations titles and a couple of World Cup semi finals. When he left there was always going to be a drop off and transition period. Similar to Ireland with Joe Schmidt, who I thought was another great coach.

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15 hours ago, topsoil said:

I think it just goes to show how good they were under Warren Gatland, totally punching above their weight. Grand Slams, Six Nations titles and a couple of World Cup semi finals. When he left there was always going to be a drop off and transition period. Similar to Ireland with Joe Schmidt, who I thought was another great coach.

Maybe punching above their weight in terms of the size of the country but not in the players available.

You can see that from Gatland’s Lions squads.

Halfpenny, Williams, North, Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Biggar, Rhys Williams, Warburton, Faletau, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Gethin Jenkins.

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4 minutes ago, DC2 said:

Maybe punching above their weight in terms of the size of the country but not in the players available.

You can see that from Gatland’s Lions squads.

Halfpenny, Williams, North, Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Biggar, Rhys Williams, Warburton, Faletau, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Gethin Jenkins.

No they did produce a lot of good players altogether, much like Ireland with their Grand Slam squads, but it is hard for these countries to sustain success, when up against much bigger countries like England and France.

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23 hours ago, topsoil said:

I think it just goes to show how good they were under Warren Gatland, totally punching above their weight. Grand Slams, Six Nations titles and a couple of World Cup semi finals. When he left there was always going to be a drop off and transition period. Similar to Ireland with Joe Schmidt, who I thought was another great coach.

I think we had a combination of factors that led to a much needed improvement at a national level, but we have certainly peaked from a player perspective.

Undoubtedly the last decade has had a bit of a golden generation of players.

But also standards improved following the introduction of Regional rugby & central contracts.

Players becoming fitter, stronger, bigger initially a lot of these were playing regional rugby & the regions initially had more money.

A reduction from 5 regions to 4 increased competition in the short term.

Now I think we have gone full circle with that arc, struggling to phase new players in - in key positions. Poor support for Regional rugby and no money.

Players in Wales also don't play an awful lot of regional rugby now because of central contracts and the international schedule.

We can't compete with the competitiveness, wealth and depth of the league competitions in England and France.

And I think we are now suffering because of all of that.

Throw in a Pivac taking over and a massive cull in a coaching team and frankly last year was a shambles of the WRUs own making.

Also the WRU recently appointed have a protectionist & traditional attitude. When we don't have a structure that is fit for purpose.

I.e. will grow the game, support or revenues.

Wales will find it very hard to be consistently competitive over the next few years.

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14 hours ago, CrystalCastles said:

I think we had a combination of factors that led to a much needed improvement at a national level, but we have certainly peaked from a player perspective.

Undoubtedly the last decade has had a bit of a golden generation of players.

But also standards improved following the introduction of Regional rugby & central contracts.

Players becoming fitter, stronger, bigger initially a lot of these were playing regional rugby & the regions initially had more money.

A reduction from 5 regions to 4 increased competition in the short term.

Now I think we have gone full circle with that arc, struggling to phase new players in - in key positions. Poor support for Regional rugby and no money.

Players in Wales also don't play an awful lot of regional rugby now because of central contracts and the international schedule.

We can't compete with the competitiveness, wealth and depth of the league competitions in England and France.

And I think we are now suffering because of all of that.

Throw in a Pivac taking over and a massive cull in a coaching team and frankly last year was a shambles of the WRUs own making.

Also the WRU recently appointed have a protectionist & traditional attitude. When we don't have a structure that is fit for purpose.

I.e. will grow the game, support or revenues.

Wales will find it very hard to be consistently competitive over the next few years.

If that comes true it will be a shame. The Six Nations and European Rugby cups needs Wales, Ireland and Scotland to be competitive with the big two, or else it becomes very predictable.

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9 hours ago, topsoil said:

If that comes true it will be a shame. The Six Nations and European Rugby cups needs Wales, Ireland and Scotland to be competitive with the big two, or else it becomes very predictable.

I think it's really on the verge of happening. Once players of my Generation i.e. late 20s/early 30s retire, at an International level we will be in trouble.

We don't have a good structure to fall back on.

Wales domestic regional game is a mess

  • the traditional club rugby structure in Wales, has never supported the professional regional game
  • Welsh fans don't really support the regions
  • The regions very rarely do anything worth talking about in Europe or in the Pro 14
  • The Regions have no money and generate no money
  • Playing games against Scottish/Irish/SA/Italian teams doesn't get good crowds.

We also now have a WRU board members that have grown up with the Welsh Club Rugby, and people who believe further radical changes are needed because Regional rugby hasn't led to competitive regions.
And on top of that the WRU now want to make the game more popular in North & Mid Wales but how do you do that when all the regions are in the South.

I think that we would be better off having kept our own league and reducing numbers e.g. to say 8

Well supported "Big Clubs" who were involved in the Regional Rugby solution (Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Llanelli, Neath, Bridgend) could have been kept and they should have put money into just creating a team in Mid Wales and North Wales.

 

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2 minutes ago, CrystalCastles said:

I think it's really on the verge of happening. Once players of my Generation i.e. late 20s/early 30s retire, at an International level we will be in trouble.

We don't have a good structure to fall back on.

Wales domestic regional game is a mess

  • the traditional club rugby structure in Wales, has never supported the professional regional game
  • Welsh fans don't really support the regions
  • The regions very rarely do anything worth talking about in Europe or in the Pro 14
  • The Regions have no money and generate no money
  • Playing games against Scottish/Irish/SA/Italian teams doesn't get good crowds.

We also now have a WRU board members that have grown up with the Welsh Club Rugby, and people who believe further radical changes are needed because Regional rugby hasn't led to competitive regions.
And on top of that the WRU now want to make the game more popular in North & Mid Wales but how do you do that when all the regions are in the South.

I think that we would be better off having kept our own league and reducing numbers e.g. to say 8

Well supported "Big Clubs" who were involved in the Regional Rugby solution (Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Llanelli, Neath, Bridgend) could have been kept and they should have put money into just creating a team in Mid Wales and North Wales.

 

A lot of the arguments you put forward are similar to ones I've heard around the Scottish game. There are died in the wool club men who are set against the regions and wanted the clubs to become stronger. Again, maybe this has held back Scottish regions in European competitions and explained why Edinburgh and certainly Borders, struggle to attract crowds.

The only country who have successfully adopted the regions is Ireland and it may be a coincidence that those regions were already in place at the advent of professionalism.

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45 minutes ago, topsoil said:

A lot of the arguments you put forward are similar to ones I've heard around the Scottish game. There are died in the wool club men who are set against the regions and wanted the clubs to become stronger. Again, maybe this has held back Scottish regions in European competitions and explained why Edinburgh and certainly Borders, struggle to attract crowds.

The problem is that Scotland and Wales are not big enough to support more than a handful of professional clubs. They struggle to support some of the ones they have now.

Return to the traditional club structure and it’ll either mean no professional rugby or clubs going out of business.

Having said this, the Welsh teams would probably be better off playing in the English structure, although how a franchised structure would coexist with a club structure would be a bit question.

Edited by Humphrey Appleby
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43 minutes ago, topsoil said:

A lot of the arguments you put forward are similar to ones I've heard around the Scottish game. There are died in the wool club men who are set against the regions and wanted the clubs to become stronger. Again, maybe this has held back Scottish regions in European competitions and explained why Edinburgh and certainly Borders, struggle to attract crowds.

The only country who have successfully adopted the regions is Ireland and it may be a coincidence that those regions were already in place at the advent of professionalism.

Definitely naturally has worked in Ireland because of that. Welsh/Scottish Rugby has had the opposite effect.

1 minute ago, Humphrey Appleby said:

The problem is that Scotland and Wales are not big enough to support more than a handful of professional clubs. They struggle to support some of the ones they have now.

Return to the traditional club structure and it’ll either mean no professional rugby or clubs going out of business. 

Wales definitely could not support the full league structure that we had prior to regional rugby, but with hindsight i think we may have been better off keeping our own league, than having the situation that we have now.

The regions get average crowds of

Scarlets 7.7K, Blues 7.6K, Ospreys 6.7K and Dragons 4.8K - so about 27K people 

If we had retained Bridgend, Cardiff, Llanelli, Neath, Newport, Swansea and perhaps invested in creating a team in Mid Wales & North Wales - i think we would have a better structure than the Pro 14.

 

 

 

 

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The Welsh Premiership and domestic leagues below are still running to this day but not sure what the crowds are like at these games now. They missed a trick with their top flight and not make it professional. Like said the regions are not well supported by fans as some are merged like Newport/Gwent Dragons. A few years back they did do a British & Irish Cup which was a great idea. Welsh sides played teams from English Championship and also teams from Scotland and Ireland top domestic flight. Unfortunately it did not last as like most things under the professional leagues it was marketed well and lack of TV coverage and sponsorship saw the end of it.

I would love to see the Welsh Premiership become a professional setup and see some of those sides that played in Euro Cup way back but I doubt we will see it happen :(

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10 hours ago, CrystalCastles said:

If we had retained Bridgend, Cardiff, Llanelli, Neath, Newport, Swansea and perhaps invested in creating a team in Mid Wales & North Wales - i think we would have a better structure than the Pro 14.

 

 

 

 

Add Pontypool and Pontypridd to that list CC;)

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11 hours ago, CrystalCastles said:

Definitely naturally has worked in Ireland because of that. Welsh/Scottish Rugby has had the opposite effect.

Wales definitely could not support the full league structure that we had prior to regional rugby, but with hindsight i think we may have been better off keeping our own league, than having the situation that we have now.

The regions get average crowds of

Scarlets 7.7K, Blues 7.6K, Ospreys 6.7K and Dragons 4.8K - so about 27K people 

If we had retained Bridgend, Cardiff, Llanelli, Neath, Newport, Swansea and perhaps invested in creating a team in Mid Wales & North Wales - i think we would have a better structure than the Pro 14.

Regional Super Rugby works very well in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of improving the quality of players.

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44 minutes ago, DC2 said:

Regional Super Rugby works very well in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of improving the quality of players.

This was the model that Wales, Ireland and Scotland unions tried to copy, but certainly in Scotland and Wales there was a long tradition of club rugby and it looks like it has been hard to move away from that structure.

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