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.”
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