The other day, my friend and colleague Owen Smith, the MP for Pontypridd, called a meeting to talk about the future of rugby in the valleys. The meeting was attended by a number of MPs, including myself, and representatives from a number of rugby clubs in the area.
Owen explained his concern that in many parts of the valleys, rugby was in decline and many local clubs were struggling. At the same time the big regional clubs were not attracting the level of support that some people thought they would. After Owen had explained the background for the meeting, there was a presentation of some research which Owen had commissioned. This explained in more detail the concerns that many have about Welsh rugby.
The presentation contained many telling quotes from rugby supporters. For example, one respondent had stated “I feel no affinity with any region. I feel that I am alienated from the game”. Another said, “the move to regionalism has created a new type of supporter, a ‘Regional Neutral’ supporter: passionate and loyal to Welsh rugby but not to any individual team”.
It was agreed at the meeting that Owen’s initiative should be taken forward. A meeting with Roger Lewis, the Chief Executive of the WRU, would be sought and Owen will continue with his petition on the issue.
Broadly speaking, those at the meeting felt strongly that a way forward may be for a commitment to a new and strong valleys-based club, possibly around Pontypridd RFC as a hub. I would really like to hear readers’ views on this initiative. My guess is that we are likely to hear quite a lot about it in the near future.
Labour MP for Caerphilly