The Principality Premiership has been accused of being an old boys' club. Pic: WRU.

The Principality Premiership – Is It A Nursery Or A Retirement Home?

By Robin Davey

 

The Welsh Principality Premiership is coming under fire again after controversial comments from one source claiming there are too many 30-somethings plus another in his 40s playing for clubs in the league.

On top of that, he claimed that for those reasons the Premiership is a waste of money and should go amateur, with regional A sides filling the void.

Cue a storm, some in support on social media while others completely denied they are overloaded with ageing players.

Llanelli boss Phil Davies, for example, went on Twitter to claim that the average age of his side is 22.5 years and insisting that there is a clear pathway down west from the Premiership to the regions.

That was in response to claims that it’s the academies who provide the regions with the majority of their developing players, not the Premiership where too many players beyond 30 are earning in the region of £15,000 a year.

Other officials – including some from Newport for example – angrily replied that they have a mix of young and experienced players, the old heads essential in helping the development of the former.

Whoever is right in this discussion, one thing is obvious – the make-up and purpose of the Premiership is yet again up for debate.

The Welsh Rugby Union have played around with the format for some years now, going from a straight home and away basis, to increasing the number of teams after complaints there were too few matches.

Now, they have split the league into two conferences – initially based on geography, while also introducing ring-fencing as well.

That has also angered Pontypool, who won the Championship easily last season and look like doing so again. This denies them the opportunity of being promoted to the Premiership at the end of the season.

And ring-fencing has also led to accusations that some players – sure of their places in the league for three years of no relegation – are not necessarily pulling their full weight.

The format seems to be set for at least another season after this one. But don’t bet against it being changed yet again after that. Meanwhile, the British and Irish Cup gets under way again this weekend, with coaches calling on regional, club and academy players in a valuable competition involving teams from the home countries.

That competition is more of a guide to the future as fringe regional players – or ones returning from injury, plus a few club players and academy youngsters – battle to make it all the way to full regional status.

 

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