Dragons play down Anglo-Welsh league
September 20, 2013
Gareth Davies has only been at the Dragons for eight days © Getty Images
Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies believes an Anglo-Welsh league would have its merits but says it is unlikely to happen any time soon.
Saracens chairman Nigel Wray suggested last week he felt an Anglo-Welsh league would benefit both sides of the Severn and should replace the LV=Cup. He told ESPN: "I am in favour of an Anglo-Welsh league. That would create a far more interesting, big league which would be popular.
"I'd accommodate it by getting rid of the LV=Cup as the customer doesn't want small games, they want big stuff. It would be fantastic for Welsh rugby."
And Davies is no stranger to such suggestions having presided over Cardiff as chief executive when they entered the professional era back in the 90s. There were similar suggestions then and Davies, who has only been in his post as Dragons CEO for eight days, admits it would be an interesting product but claims the RaboDirect PRO12 still has a massive role to play.
"I was involved many moons ago back in 1998-99 when I was chief executive at Cardiff," Davies told ESPN. "The plan then was for an Anglo-Welsh league. When I played, the Anglo-Welsh games were the games to play and to watch.
"I think many people would like to see an Anglo-Welsh league due to its proximity. It's quite easy travelling and there's that fierce Anglo-Welsh rivalry.
"But people tend to bemoan the PRO12 and really promotes the Premiership. I've been living in Leeds and I'm not sure it (the Premiership) really does live up to the way people portray it; I feel there are some skill levels missing.
"One of the causes of that, I expect, is that because of the relegation, there is a reluctance to bring in some of the young people in and try things. If you lose your spot in the Premiership, it's a serious blow. For the Welsh regions, they are good at developing players as they don't have the added pressure of relegation. It's nice to see these young lads coming through."
The Dragons have already managed to retain their star player Toby Faletau while a number of Wales' top talent are on the radar of clubs both in England and France. Leigh Halfpenny, Alun-Wyn Jones and Adam Jones have all been linked with big money to moves to Clermont when their contracts finish at the end of the season and Davies concedes Welsh regions will never be able to keep all of their premier talent but claims there are discussions taking place "to stop the bleed".
"There are discussions going on between the regions and the Union to make more funds available," Davies added. "I don't think there will ever be enough funds to always keep your top players. It's a case of allocating funds a) to keeping your top players but b) towards enhancing the stream of players coming through academies etc. which we have been pretty good. At the end of the day, everybody has their price and if you want to go on and play then good luck to them."
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.