Some news has broken on WalesOnline that could be a massive step forward for Cardiff Blues, and make a big wave across Welsh professional and semi-professional rugby. Richard Holland, our CEO, has done an interview with Simon Thomas, detailing plans for the club to cut ties with Cardiff RFC and Pontypridd RFC, and not create any with Merthyr RFC, to save money and cut the playing staff.
It is a fantastic move for us as we’ve been crying out for a change. The article (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/cardiff-blues-stop-providing-players-10432970) puts the full playing squad at 65, with 43 senior players and 22 in the academy squad, but says Danny Wilson has undertaken a full evaluation of the playing squad and believes a core squad of 38-40 is sufficient, supported by a smaller academy group. Holland is quoted as saying Cardiff want ‘quality not quantity’, and he couldn’t be more right. There are far too many cling-on players in the squad that play more Premiership rugby than anything else. With 20 players out of contract at the end of the season, it is the perfect time to perform a regeneration of the squad, and it could even boost this season’s so far lacklustre performance as the players realise Wilson is serious when he says they have to fight for new contracts.
In monetary terms, it equates to saving around £500,000 a year according to Holland, who has calculated the time spent by Cardiff contracted players playing in the Premiership free of charge, comes to £250,000 per club. When you add the rest of the player’s wages on, that’s a very hefty amount to save. It’s just up to Wilson now to make the right choices about who stays and who goes.
Although the news is a very good move from a Cardiff point of view, it’s obviously not so great for the clubs, especially Ponty who’s recent league victories have been propped up by a number of player gifts. However, Richard Holland makes more good points in this respect. He firstly says, “the Premiership clubs have to become self-sufficient, They need a core of semi-professional players to create their own cultures and their own environments”, which is very true, and that ““if I was playing as a lock for one of those Premiership clubs and then Miles Normandale or Chris Dicomidis turned up from the Blues one week, but then the next week they’re not there, it’s not right for those environments”, in other words, they need to be standalone clubs. My only concern is that it could be a bit of a killer for the already struggling Cardiff RFC, but it’s a step that needs to be made for the future good of Cardiff Blues.
So we shall wait to see with baited breath who makes the Wilson cut and who doesn’t, and also the effect it has on the pro team and the club sides. One thing is for certain, Danny is making his mark on the Cardiff Blues, and good on Richard Holland and the board for backing him. Now we wait for Pontypridd tears. Come on Cardiff!