Monthly Archives: January 2000

Corporate Sponsorship

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There’s been a lot of rubbish written in the press lately about corporate sponsorship and the way the strawberries and cream set are running off with our tickets. The evil Mike Burton is pictured as depriving the good honest fan of tickets for the big game. But all this is far too superficial.

Let’s look at the real cause of the problem, and once more, its our friends in the WRU.

Can clubs be blamed for selling their ticket allocation on to people like Burton, or to allocating tickets to sponsors? The money raised is pumped back into the club, whether to maintain wages for the type of players we, as club supporters, want to see, or to maintain club facilities. Either way, the money is used for the benefit of the club. As rugby supporters, do we really expect it any other way? Should we expect magnanimous clubs to guarantee their supports all the tickets allocated by the WRU? Wouldn’t this deprive the clubs – all clubs – of a valuable way of raising revenue to invest in the game?

No, the real cause of the problem here is the WRU. If they were really committed to looking after the typical supporter – those that loyally follow their club week after week – and not so-called rugby fans who wouldn’t know one end of a club house from another, then why don’t they legislate that all tickets released to clubs must be sold to members and not the likes of Burton and his ilk? So the press attacking Burton misses the point. They are attacking the symptom and not the root cause of the problem. The WRU is quite aware of the service Burton and other corporate sponsors offer smaller and poorer clubs. They condone the selling of tickets to non-fans. That’s professionalism, progress and capitalism for you bois! If you’ve got the wad, you’ll get the ticket and the WRU is quite happy with the situation, thank you very much.

Yet another area where the WRU have been quite happy to take the back seat and do nothing about next year’s fixture list, has been their Trappist silence on the attitude and actions of the RFU. The talk in the press recently, was that the Celtic Nations may only get £12m of the Sky money that the RFU unilaterally secured. The RFU have also unilaterally decided the winners of the Tetley Bitter Cup will qualify for Europe. Now they’re deciding to move the Six Nations. But what’s worse, they’re deciding on our fixture list for next season and there’s no one from the WRU standing up for Welsh clubs at their closed door meetings.

So let’s look at what we’ve got in Wales. A sponsorless Premier Division, a sponsorless knock out competition and a future devoid of any leadership from the WRU. On the pitch, in Llanelli and Cardiff we have two of the best teams in Europe, but what will happen next season? If the WRU allow the RFU to dominate and decide next year’s structure, then how long will the money last in Wales? Unless Welsh clubs get a hold of some television money, their future is bleak. If the RFU sign a multi-million pound television deal enriching the English clubs further, how long before the wealth they will accumulate will result in a talent drain of Welsh players across the border? Already the national press and television is dominated by English club rugby, can Wales continue to hold onto its best players in the future? Our view is that we either create a British League now (as proposed by the Scotsman Walkinshaw) or the gap will widen. The 57 old farts are determined to hang on to their privileges, so unless real pressure is put on them from the start, they’ll pick up the ball and run away with it!

Our plea to the WRU is talk with the RFU now, try and influence them now, before they set the agenda and the English dominate our domestic rugby, not by beating us on the pitch, but by beating us in the board room and the wallet.

European Quarter Finals and Henry’s meaningless trial

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So Cardiff are laying to waste all those who stand in front of them in the European Cup. But what will happen if we beat Harlequins next week? Well consulting the rule book, it seems that the top team in each group and the two best second-placed teams will go through to the quarter-finals.

If two or more teams finish level on points the most tries scored in all pool games will decide the rankings.

The six pool winners will be ranked 1-6 and the runners-up seventh and eight. The pairings for the quarter finals will be …

1 vs 8
2 vs 7
3 vs 6
4 vs 5

So as things stand now, the most likely scenario will be

Tolouse (23 tries) vs Wasps (7 tries)
Munster (16) vs Montferrand (13)
Northamption (14) vs Stade Francais (18)
Llanelli (13) vs Cardiff (11)

(This assumes Cardiff win against Harlequins and Llanelli beat Wasps at Stradey). The only way Cardiff will get a home draw is if Neath beat Northampton! Otherwise there’s a chance for more revenge in the quarter finals. Either way though, this is bad for Welsh rugby as the idiots in the WRU have agreed to a system where unless two Welsh teams reach the semi-finals, our representation will be cut to two teams only from next year!

We were disappointed to read the comments of Leighton Samuel of Bridgend who is not in favour of the much needed British League – unlike Fran Cotton amongst others. His view is that all Welsh clubs are not ready for it! Speak for yourself, mate! Judging by your position in the league and by the amount of corrugated iron in your stadium, you lot sure aren’t ready. As for Neath, well, whatever Lyn saysthey can’t even catch a plane in Europe. Despite Pontypridd’s arrogant assertion that they could win the European Cup this year, they just seem content to concede record scores each week – alright in your own valley, but can’t travel. Swansea have disappointed this season, and there seems to be a real lack of enthusiasm for the fight. Gibbs seems to have lost interest in the Village League and with his and Arwel’s contracts end at the end of this season, no British League with Swansea in it will definitely see them leaving! That leaves us with Llanelli, and however reluctantly we say it, they’ve done even better than Cardiff this season. They may have had a better draw than Cardiff did, but nevertheless they’ve won away in France – something we quite clearly failed to do. Here’s the latest French League Table.

Finally, turning to the Village League, Graham Henry totally unnecessary trial match is going to force another mid-week game for Cardiff. If this game – against Llanelli – goes on during the Five Nations, we’re going to be without our best players. Whilst we admire your comments on the neanderthal from Sardis, what is the point in this game? What do you hope to learn? Not only have you buggered up our fixture list, you could injure half our team in a meaningless circus. Is that the sound of ego we can hear?

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