The rumours are strong of a Celtic Super 12 to run next season, after the World Cup in Australia and to coincide with the European Cup and Shield. With four Irish provinces and three Scottish Districts, this makes room for only five Welsh super clubs for the tournament.
With the heavy schedule for our international players already lined up for next season, and Steve Hansen already asking for a limit of 20 club games for our players this season, the pool of players to pick from must be enlarged.
The administrators are already talking to the Union and the representatives from the clubs are also committee men of Llanelli, Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Pontypridd. With Leighton Samuel having resigned from the Western Mail titled “Gang of Six” and Neath being the puppy dogs of the Rottweiler Union, it could be that the five teams are already selected and the playing squads of Neath and Bridgend will be loaned out for the competition.
If the Union and the clubs have sensible discussions (!) the possibilites of allowing the best Welsh qualified players to be exposed to the top level of club rugby in the World are good. Whilst certain playing contracts will have to be negoitiated, the extra pool of players will allow those who represented Wales in the World Cup to be properly rested before the next round of Six Nations whilst still maintaining the club base and tradition.
Neath have only three non-Welsh qualified players in their squad, yet Bridgend have comfortably more. Representatives from both Caerphilly and Ebbw Vale could be drafted in whilst the exciting young talent of the big five could be given a start.
We have pencilled in a potential Celtic 12 squad for Cardiff, with players “loaned” in from Neath and Bridgend. The depth of talent means that, for example, Lee Jarvis could fight for the number 10 spot at Llanelli or perhaps make the Newport team, whilst Shane Williams could fight for a wing spot at Cardiff.
An agreement between the parties could see the number of non-Welsh qualified players limited to two per squad. In our squad we have kept Crazy Dan and John Tait as the “overseas” players. The non qualified players in the squad could play in an expanded Village Domestic League, or be loaned out to Division One clubs to raise the standards below the professional game.
The money generated for the Union during the World Cup could part pay for the player’s contracts during this time. Should we take Jamie Robinson as an example of a player who could be out of contract at the end of this season and will be in the Welsh squad for the World Cup, then the Union can contract him from May to November. He will then be free from any club pressures during this time and be free to represent Wales and train etc under the total guidance of Steve Hansen.
His contract will then be picked up again by Cardiff in November to play in either the Celtic 12 or European Cup or both.
Of course there will be a great expense involved in this exercise and the man with the most power may well be Leighton Samuel himself. Players contracts will have to be negotiated and the fixture list will be a nightmare. Yet with the World Cup running well into the British season the potential number of games is seriously limited anyway. Nobody wants to see “top flight” rugby without the Internationals.
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|Gareth Thomas, Daffydd James, Jamie Robinson, Nicky Robinson|
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|Spencer John, Kenneth Fourie, Martyn Madden, Ben Evans|
|Andrew Lewis, Greg Woods, Steve Jones|
|Adam Jones, Luke Tait, Andy Moore, John Tait, Chris Stamatakis|
|Nathan Budgett, Martyn Williams, Robin Sowden Taylor, Nathan Bonner-Evans, Steve Tandy, Dan Baugh|