The end is nigh for Welsh/Scottish League
May 2, 2002

The Welsh/Scottish League will be terminated at the end of this season after just three seasons.

Following discussions between the Welsh and Scottish Rugby Unions and member clubs it has been decided that, with the addition of a new team in The Borders next season, the League has become too big.

Officials are concerned that asking the clubs - currently Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Ebbw Vale, Llanelli, Neath, Newport, Pontypridd and Swansea - to play 22 matches would put an unacceptable strain on players.

"There was a strong feeling from both the SRU and WRU that 22 league fixtures represented an unacceptably high figure, when combined with the other demands on top players next season," said a joint statement by the SRU and the WRU.

SRU director of rugby Jim Telfer said: "When you consider that our top players will play 11 internationals next season, a minimum of seven games in the Celtic League and minimum six in the Heineken Cup, plus our own inter-pro team competition, then we will be already around the optimum 30 games.

"We have to guard against player burn-out and that becomes an even more important issue as the 2003 Rugby World Cup looms."

The unions' joint statement added: "Both the SRU and WRU remain fully committed to an extended Celtic League - as soon as that can be achieved working with their Irish counterparts - and the Heineken Cup."

The SRU are already beginning to put plans for some friendly games to run alongside the remaining tournaments next season.

"There will still be the Celtic League, the Heineken Cup and a Inter-professional competition," said an SRU spokesman.

"We have still to determine exactly how many games that would involve but it is likely to be played on a home and away basis.

"The other element to it is that, with nine clubs in the Welsh League next season, one side would have a free Saturday.

"We know, from comments from certain Welsh clubs, they are keen to continue to play the Scottish sides.

"So there will be talks on that and we will also be speaking to some of the Irish clubs to ensure that there will be a fixture list to give professional teams games.

"But we also want to make sure that the top players are not over-played going into the World Cup - that is the main consideration."

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