I don’t know whether I’m trying to avoid apathy or suppress anger. Well, actually I do – if it were apathy, I wouldn’t be writing this.
Welsh rugby seems to be using it’s last bullets to blow off whatever toes it hasn’t already dismembered. At probably the most critical time that the sport has seen in Wales, there are individuals who seem to be doing their utmost to make things even worse (and maybe they do or don’t realise that they are part of the problem). When you list what’s got us to this situation, its a truly shameful place that we’ve ended up in.
Parts of the press seem to delight in digging up any old click-bait headline, whether based on truths, half-truths, half-baked opinions, or just plain imagination.
Ex-players, now pundits in the public eye (and not just on social media) are making statements that are on the point of libellous, with statements along the lines of “in particular the Ospreys are struggling financially” – really? REALLY? With a relatively modest level of funding from the WRU under the existing model, the Ospreys have benefited greatly from the backing of the Y11 Group. It genuinely looks like a model setup in terms of the imminent 6-year funding model in terms of developing private revenue streams.
One rugby administrator is suggesting taking a step back in terms of governance changes and an ex WRU CEO is suggesting shutting down the most successful Welsh club in the last 20 years. Do either of these ideas suggest that Welsh rugby will be still sitting at the top table in 5 years? I do wonder if we’ve already lost that right. Without four competitive professional clubs, Team Wales will surely continue to crumble. I’m pretty sure that wise investment in the teams will improve performances and results, bringing in new revenues and result in a self-fulfilling improvement cycle. Surely shrinking the professional influence at board level, shrinking the player base, and shrinking funding of the professional game is just short sighted (and an echo of the thoughts of previous WRU management).
I do wonder how much of the garbage that seems to pop up on sometimes a daily basis is from people diverting attention away from the plight of their own former clubs or just to gain attention for themselves. This is a time when point scoring at the expense of others could weaken the entire micro-climate of the game in Wales.
Clubs have been told they must find minimum levels of private revenue as part of the new 6-year funding agreement. This is hard at the best of times, but given the constant grumblings and rumours on the future of the clubs, the commercial teams must be pulling their hair out. Potential deals might not make it over the line or potentially be devalued massively. Is this the way to build for the future? Is this the way to encourage new funding into the sport we love? Hardly.
Supporters might get wound up by the Ospreys silence in dealing with the nonsense we’ve heard in the past few months with the latest around Ealing mergers, Y11 pulling out, Joe Hawkins going to Exeter, & an ex WRU CEO saying the Ospreys should be axed. I understand the Ospreys’ position that if they start dealing with the garbage, due to the volume of it, the one comment they don’t respond to will be assumed to be true, however, people fill voids with whatever satisfies their own mind, for better (rarely) or for worse (regularly – as anyone who spends any time on twitter will know first hand).
We find PRB trying to force through a funding model that was the mandate of the WRU’s former CEO, and look at the carnage that this is causing. There must be a transition from where we are now to a model with longer term horizons, but the transition from the here and now to next season looks like a train wreck – and who knows who’ll survive?
There must be an element of the staff and players at the club who are really struggling with the perceived pressure. It’s hard enough for us as supporters to go through the mill hearing the latest rumours, but at least for us, our investment is JUST our heart and soul (and as much money as we can justify in following our teams around Europe and the URC), and for us, it’s not the way that we pay our mortgage, our bills and provide for our families.
I’ve seen the phrase “Read the room” used regularly on social media recently around Welsh rugby, so let’s try to help and not hinder.
Now is not the time to back track on proposed governance changes. Now is not the time to shaft one professional team to benefit another. Now is not the time to hide.
Now is the time for people to do what’s right and not what’s easy. Now is the time for the right people to stand up and lead us forward. Now is the time for YOU to support YOUR team.
Ospreys Supporters Club