Leinster Ospreys

Dublin , Ireland - 11 May 2024; Jordan Larmour of Leinster gets past the tackle of Keelan Giles of Ospreys on his way to scoring his side's eighth try during the United Rugby Championship match between Leinster and Ospreys at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Ben McShane/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Welsh Rugby Risks Losing Fan Base, Warns Tom Shanklin

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By Gareth James

Tom Shanklin has called on the Welsh Rugby Union to show some vision and offer some hope for the future after another bleak weekend for the game in Wales.

All four Welsh teams lost in the United Rugby Championship over the weekend – the fifth time this season they have suffered a collective whitewash.

The Ospreys’ chances of being the only Welsh side to make the play-offs look all but over after they were hammered 61-20 by Leinster.

The four sides have only managed a collective 17 wins in 64 league games this season so far, with only eight successes against non-Welsh teams, the other triumphs coming in Welsh derbies.

The Dragons went down 44-21 at home to the Stormers, the Scarlets were beaten 31-20 at home by Ulster and Cardiff were beaten 34-13 away at the Lions.

The struggles of the regions follow a Six Nations whitewash for Wales men’s side and just one win for Wales women in their tournament.

WRU chief executive Abi Tierney has promised a new Welsh rugby strategy will be announced by the end of June, but former Wales centre Shanklin says the commitments have to be believable and specific.

“It is important we have a vision of how and why it’s going to get better and how long that is going to take,” Shanklin told BBC Wales’ Scrum V.

“At the moment you look at the year Welsh rugby has had, we are not challenging for anything.

“There needs to be something changed and some positive news come out as to where we are going.

“We can’t compete with the top five or six sides. Until something changes we are going to be constantly be in the bottom half of the table.

“I can’t see us improving next year, in fact I think it will be worse, because you are losing so many players.

“Unless something drastic happens where we have higher budgets, more money to spend on players and keep them, we are going to be even worse than last year.

“We have to be careful at the moment otherwise we are going to have fans turning away from watching rugby and they are going to be finding another sport.

“We need teams to be in quarter-finals and semi-finals and in the latter stages of Europe because at the moment we are way off.”

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