Neath Issue Barbed Congratulations To Cardiff After Nigel Walker Declares EDC Verdict

Neath v Pontypridd at The Gnoll. Pic: Craig Thomas/Replay images.

Neath Issue Barbed Congratulations To Cardiff After Nigel Walker Declares EDC Verdict

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By Paul Jones

Neath have reacted badly to being beaten by Cardiff to the remaining place in the planned new 10-team Elite Domestic Competition – appearing to suggest the Welsh Rugby Union came to a biased judgement.

The decision by the WRU to add Cardiff to the list has brought an end to a long, and sometimes farcical process that looked like musical chairs.

The Arms Park side and the Welsh All Blacks applied for the 10th spot after nine clubs had been confirmed in February.

Claiming that the decision was “no surprise”, Neath issued a statement in which they said: “Neath RFC’s re-application to the EDC has been turned down by the WRU who have awarded the final place to Cardiff.

“That is no surprise to Neath RFC and its supporters but Neath RFC join with WRU Executive Director of Performance and ex-Cardiff RFC man Nigel Walker in congratulating Cardiff RFC.

“We have been at pains throughout to stress that this is not about Neath and Cardiff or any of the other clubs for that matter. We believe that Cardiff is an elite club, but so too is Neath RFC.”

Cardiff will join Aberavon, Bridgend, Carmarthen Quins, Ebbw Vale, Llandovery, Newport, Pontypool, Swansea and RGC 1404 as the confirmed clubs.

The tournament is ring-fenced for three seasons with a salary cap.

Both Merthyr and Pontypridd rejected the opportunity to apply – as did Cardiff initially – having voiced their concerns over the limited number of matches and financial viability.

If Neath wish to appeal the club must notify the WRU in writing within seven days and it would be referred by the governing body to an independent arbitrator.

“It is unfortunate for Neath that, despite an improved application, they didn’t score enough points to be considered for a licence,” said WRU executive director of performance Nigel Walker.

“We are acutely aware this will be difficult news for all of those at Neath rugby club and their supporters, and we thank them genuinely for their passion and commitment to the process.

“The club will be eligible for a parachute payment as they join the Championship competition, with potential reconsideration for EDC next available in three years’ time.”

The 10 licences are granted for an initial three-year term and the new EDC will sit under the governance of the Professional Rugby Board, with season structure claimed to be aligned to the professional game.

As part of their licence, clubs will receive an increase in investment from the WRU and be required to work within a new salary cap, and meet minimum operating expectations for the competition.

“We now have the recommended ten licences in place and can look forward to a competition which will provide the missing link between our elite professional teams in Wales and the community game and vastly improve our pathway provision at the same time,” added Walker.

“We are grateful to all those who applied to join the EDC, it is unfortunate for Neath that, despite an improved application, they didn’t score enough points to be considered for a licence.

More details about the new competition will be announced once this season’s Premiership champions have been crowned next month.

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