McCafferty dismisses Anglo-Welsh league reports
January 26, 2009
Premier Rugby chief Mark McCafferty has dismissed reports of a possible Anglo-Welsh league © Getty Images
Premier Rugby chief Mark McCafferty has denied that any formal discussions have taken place over the idea of an Anglo-Welsh league.
Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation for the 12 Guinness Premiership teams, are currently hoping to extend the Premiership season by six rounds as clubs seek to combat the credit crunch. The extension would spell the end of the current Anglo-Welsh Cup competition.
McCafferty insists that reports of an Anglo-Welsh league are unfounded. "The talk of an Anglo-Welsh league has been overblown. I was down at Swansea over the weekend and I had informal talks," he said. "They said they have exactly the same issues with the irregularity of fixtures in the Magners League as we do in the Premiership. They go weeks on end without a home fixture.
"People talk about the Welsh clubs joining us all the time but I don't see that happening The Magners League is a tripartite agreement between the Scots, Irish and Welsh. I don't see them leaving that as being feasible.
"It wouldn't be good for northern hemisphere rugby - it would weaken the situation in Scotland and Ireland. That's not something we want to do - we want to build up club rugby, not do the opposite. I would discount the idea of an Anglo-Welsh league as a possibility for the immediate to mid-term future."
McCafferty made clear however that the structure of the Premiership must change if sides are to prosper financially. "If we don't do this we'll have a lot less money coming into the clubs," he said. "Some clubs go four to five weeks without a home fixture, a fact that has been brought into sharper focus now that times are more difficult.
"There will always be critics and purists, we accept that. It's not perfect by any means. But six extra games means you're playing more than half the league again. It works because of the strength of the league - anyone can beat anyone else.
"In terms of the competitive level of fixtures, no one club will gain an advantage over another because the matches will be a cross section of the league. For example, if you finish first one season, the following season you play the clubs who finished in even places and the newly-promoted team.
"It's not a traditional way of looking at things, but people have to recognise we must make the books balance."