THE curse of Welsh regional rugby reigns on – crowds are small and deflated and players continue to look elsewhere for more stimulating rugby.
Even rugby pundit and ex-Wales captain, Eddie Butler dislikes the Welsh regional set-up.
He said: “It hasn’t captured the public’s imagination. If we were playing in front of full houses and losing, I wouldn’t worry so much, but that’s not happening in Wales.”
On Saturday, only 5,321 people went to watch the Cardiff Blues play against Leinster at the Cardiff Arms Park.
Compare this with Bath rugby, which had a sell-out crowd of almost 13,500 people watching their Aviva Premiership game against the London Wasps.
And Ulster trumped that with 15,201 people watching their Guinness Pro 12 match against the Llanelli Scarlets on Sunday.
Butler added: “In Ireland, the regions play on Friday nights in front of full crowds with a buzzing atmosphere and in England it’s more or less always guaranteed to be a full house – whatever they’ve got, the public like it but we just don’t have that here.
“What we do about it, I don’t know. We are stuck with the model. You can’t turn back and return to club rugby and you can’t keep trimming the regions. So we are stuck. It’s such a shame.”
Butler did suggest ploughing more resources into just one region to try and boost interest and improve performance. However, this might further disenfranchise the other Welsh regions.
He was critical of Northern Hemisphere rugby as a whole and said the Six Nations is too fixed in its ways.
“It doesn’t budge much. The Six Nations is the Six Nations. There are no plans to make it the Seven Nations or to replace anybody of the six with somebody else or to move it in the calendar.
“We always play it in February and early March when the weather is at its worst. If we could ever play on lovely dry grounds, we might improve.
“Every time we play the World Cup everybody says we’ve got to improve standards in the Northern Hemisphere but we don’t actually do much about making it happen.”