If you thought it was just the Welsh regions who are cash strapped, then think again.
Some of the most famous club names in Welsh rugby have been forced to put out the begging bowl this year to try to make ends meet as spiralling costs and reduced funding begin to bite harder and harder.
Pontypridd and Cross Keys launched Just Giving funding pages to try to cover their costs for the 2018/19 season and now Llanelli RFC have taken a different path to try to stave off oblivion.
Anthony Buchanan, current WRU director and World Rugby council member, has launched a ‘Save Our Club’ appeal at Parc y Scarlets among former players and fans to try to stave of the threat of closure. He is asking for lovers of the club to pledge £10 a month.
“We have to face reality and that is that the club could die. Had we lost the play-off game to Pontypool at the end of last season I think that would have been that,” said Buchanan, who played 238 games for the club and won his five Welsh caps from Llanelli.
“For the name of Llanelli RFC to disappear from Welsh rugby forever would be very sad. I just think we have to do whatever it takes to keep the club alive and kicking.
“If people are prepared to let the club die then, in my eyes, that will show that many of the best principles of Welsh rugby have been lost. I’m finishing with the WRU and World Rugby at the end of the World Cup and so I want to pay something back to a club that gave me so much.”
As it stands, Ponty have reached 11 per cent of their ambitious target of £100,000, just over £11,000, while Cross Keys are 35 per cent towards their £20,000 goal with £7,050 pledged so far. It is a pretty sorry state of affairs, especially against a background of falling funding from the Welsh Rugby Union.
Keys found themselves relegated from the Principality Premiership last month and will drop down to the Championship next season. It means they will receive only £15,000 for the 2019/20 campaign having been given £80,000 last season.
For Pontypridd and Llanelli, and the rest of the reduced 12 team league in the Premiership, the WRU funding will drop another £10,000 to £70,000 next season. It will bottom out at £50,000 in 2021/22.
Given the operating costs or Llanelli last season were around £190,000, even with the lowest wage structure of all 16 clubs in last season’s Premiership, it is obvious there is going to be an even bigger financial gap to fill moving forward.
“What we want to do is keep on giving those players who have left the Academies and still feel they want to give it a go at reaching the professional game a proper playing environment in which to try to reach their goals,” explained Buchanan.
“I joined Llanelli from Ystrangynlais in 1981 as a No 8, but was quickly converted into a prop. I can still remember my first game for the club, against Abertillery, when I spent most of the match with my head up my backside at scrum time.
“But the club gave me my chance and my shot at achieving my dreams. That is what we are here for and what we want to continue to offer.”