Aviva Premiership
McCafferty: Anglo-Welsh comp unlikely
ESPN Staff
March 31, 2013
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty, Premiership Rugby press briefing, Copthorne Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand, October 14, 2011
Premiership chief executive Mark McCafferty admits to talks with Welsh counterparts © Getty Images

The prospect of the four Welsh regions joining the Aviva Premiership remains "pretty unlikely" despite talks between the two parties, according to Premiership chief executive Mark McCafferty.

McCafferty confirmed he met with Regional Rugby Wales chairman Stuart Gallacher and Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland. He insisted the majority of the meeting revolved around other issues but admitted they had discussed the possibility of the four Welsh regions - the Blues, the Ospreys, the Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons - joining an Anglo-Welsh competition.

"It is certainly true I met with Stuart and Richard," McCafferty told the Rugby Paper. "People may think its (Welsh involvement in the Aviva Premiership) a great idea especially with Wales having that long historic rivalry with English clubs but it's pretty unlikely. The practical difficulties are pretty obvious.

"There was a pretty broad agenda. We are conscious of the fact that the European agreement finishes at the end of next season. The main focus of the discussions was around Europe, the LV=Cup and the possibilities of Wales joining up in Sevens' competitions.

"Europe only has one season left. We all have to figure out what happens after next year which is why we are talking to a number of partners. The meetings with ERC (European Cup Rugby) have been hugely unsuccessful. The Welsh regions and the French clubs are natural allies as far as we are concerned."

The Welsh regions are eager to explore new options as they struggle to hold on to their top players, such as George North who has been in talks over a move to Northampton, in a difficult financial climate. And despite the potential opposition from English clubs, the other RaboDirect sides and the International Board, a senior Welsh official is optimistic progress can still be made towards an Anglo-Welsh league.

"There have been a couple of meetings," the official told the Rugby Paper. "At this stage it's a matter of exploring the possibilities. The English clubs seem relatively warm on the idea otherwise we wouldn't be having a chat with them."

"We are at the stage of trying to find out whether anything would fit. We are looking at a number of different ideas to recreate competition with the English clubs. There's no doubt it would be brilliant if it happened. Never say never."

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