Ryan Jones: “It is heartbreaking to see players leave”

ryan jones
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones has urged Welsh Rugby’s power brokers to sort out the crisis engulfing the national game before it is too late. Speaking to Wales Online, Jones said the current situation, which has contributed to the player drain that has seen top internationals such as Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate leave Wales (along with Richard Hibbard, Ian Evans and Jon Davies next season), needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

The WRU and representatives from the Welsh regions are set to meet on Wednesday in what is rapidly becoming the most important meeting in Welsh rugby’s history. With so much on the line, the Ospreys back-rower says concrete progress must be made.

“Let’s cut to the nuts and bolts of it,” said Jones. “As players it is hugely frustrating. We have a relatively small player base in Wales and collectively we need to be pulling in the same direction. I am tired of it and I know the other players are tired of it and so are the Welsh public.

“The sooner it is resolved the better but my worry is that it is going to put a scar on the domestic game that will take a while to heal. The clock is ticking and my fear is we won’t have a genuine competitive domestic competition with competitive regions which would possibly mean we don’t have a competitive national team. Those are the two things we want to see as a proud Welshman and Welsh rugby supporter.

“It is heartbreaking to see players leave because I have a lot of friends who have gone and they have done the right thing for them. We have to create a domestic environment for the national team which players don’t want to leave. We need to offer above and beyond just playing to make this happen.

“I have said it before but the stars of tomorrow need to be watching the stars of today. They need to be watching and playing with the likes of George North, Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Justin Tipuric and Alun Wyn Jones. These sort of characters were brought up watching and brought on by players of that ilk and were inspired by that.”

A possible solution could be the creation of an Anglo-Welsh league – an idea that Jones is a fan of.

“I am a big fan, and I have always said some sort of British league would be fantastic,” said the Triple Grand Slam winner. “Having Champions League European type battles would be wonderful. I don’t understand the nuts and bolts of it or the or all the intricacies but if I had my way that would be it.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

8 thoughts on “Ryan Jones: “It is heartbreaking to see players leave”

  1. The problem is the WRU can not yet see any correlation between the regions struggling to hold onto players and the national team doing badly.

    My view is the regions struggling is a lagging indicator. It will in time have a huge impact on the national team. When the national team starts to struggle and millenium attendances start to drop the WRU will have a reduced capacity to act.

    From a purely English point of view I would love an Anglo/Welsh league. Accessible home and away fixtures for a lot of fans both side of the bridge and some great rivalries. I can definitely that as a marketable competition. Not sure it’s the best answer for the long term health of the European game. Given “rugby unions” is now a bit of an oxymoron, shutting out the RFU (and any second tier representation) from discussions on the future of European rugby, shows the good of the game isn’t the primary objective maybe we should just focus on our own interests and find a way to make this happen.

  2. I want an Anglo-Welsh league as well, for so many reasons. Agree with you about the attractiveness of the home/away fixtures. There’s also more history and excitement, for me personally, in playing Gloucester than there is in playing Leinster. Before the Irish internet police’s search engine spots that and jumps on me with a million righteously indignant responses, please reread that and realise that is not about Leinster, it’s about my personal history as a fan with Gloucester or other well established English teams.

    I was told today, by someone I have no reason to distrust, that there is also the galling factor that currently Welsh money goes to Irish provinces as part of the deal we had to strike back in the 00s to practically beg them to go for a home/away Celtic league AND to allow us back in after we tried to go for an Anglo-Welsh comp back in 2005. We had to go cap in hand to them for the first iteration (the dogs dinner home OR away only group thing), then go back even more meek and mild to beg them to join it as a proper league. From that I get the impression that the Irish do not need the Pro 12 so I can’t see that us leaving it would be a big deal for them? So in essence what I’m saying is that we’re a more natural fit for an Anglo-Welsh league, for dozens of reasons, than a Celtic one.

    1. Oh, and I understand that this would then put us in a league with relegation. We’d have to deal with that. I don’t like it but that’s my own personal view on financial sustainability. If we’re joining the English then it has to be on their terms – they’re not asking to join our league.

      1. An English league, bleeding 20 million a year, willing to take on a few crumbling Welsh dependents?

        Not sure whether that should be filed that under ‘Comedy’ or Horror’.

  3. I grew up with my father regaling me with tales of when he played all of the South Wales teams while playing for Exeter. There is history aplenty.

    I would be happy with this, but still want a full European competition if possible.

    This does need to be resolved soon before the region’s start losing critical mass. A strong Welsh set up is vitally important for British and European rugby moving forwards.

Comments are closed.