There was big news in the world of Cardiff rugby as it was announced last week that the Cardiff Blues would be taking control over the running of Cardiff RFC from next season. Now if you’re expecting some detailed financial and business analysis of how this will work you ‘ll be disappointed as I’m not going to dive into the political side. Frankly I don’t understand any of it, I don’t think anyone does really, and I’m not interested either.
All I will say is that it’s important not to confuse this ‘takeover’ as a takeover. All the Cardiff Blues have done is reclaimed the running of Cardiff RFC (Rags) from the Cardiff Athletic Club. We were allowing CAC to run the Premiership side even though it comes under Cardiff Blues Ltd, now we’ve taken over the running of the Rags. Partly for rugby reasons, which I will look at now, but also as we’re trying to secure the redevelopment of Cardiff Arms Park, which CAC do own, and this may help convince them to let us do that.
Anyway, it’s a rugby blog I knew there was something, so let’s get to on the field matters. As things stand the Welsh rugby development pathway goes from local junior clubs through professional club academies and into the Pro12. The Principality Premiership is used as a farm almost by the professional clubs, where they send younger players who are above academy level and need senior rugby experience. Cardiff send players to Cardiff RFC and Pontypridd, Ospreys to Neath and Aberavon etc.
Now Cardiff announced before Christmas that they were severing ties with both Cardiff RFC and Pontypridd RFC as the supply of free players to them costs £500,000 overall each year. So to save money, and also part of Danny Wilson’s plans to slim down the playing squad, the sending of players from the Welsh Premiership will be brought to an end.
The End Of Free Premiership Players: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/stopping-the-free-flow/
Some may say that this new announcement just means that this flow of players will restart but only to the Rags, however that’s not the case. Cardiff RFC will now effectively join the development pathway to the Cardiff Blues. It will be a natural progression to go from the Cardiff Blues Academy through Cardiff RFC and then onto the first team, effectively making the Rags ‘Cardiff Blues A’. What they should have been from the start.
How will that benefit us? Well effectively developing an Under-21 side can only be a good thing. The opportunity for the younger players to train and play together week in, week out will be an advantage in the long run as they are used to playing together. As things stand, the academy players shipped out to the Welsh Premiership are split between Cardiff and Ponty, so players like Mike Hale, Jarrod Evans, Garyn Smith, Harri Millard, Owen Lane, Elis Benham and Aled Summerhill won’t play together until they reach the first team.
With the ‘Premiership Select XV’ playing in the British and Irish Cup this season it gave the younger players a chance to play together regularly and it shows as since then we have had a number of academy players make their senior debuts. If they played and trained together week in, week out, alongside the senior team then there’s a much higher chance of more players being brought through.
The British And Irish Cup – A Successful Failure: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/british-and-irish-cup-review-a-successful-failure/comment-page-1/
A potential Cardiff RFC team for next season could look something like this;
Rhun Williams, Elis Benham, Owen Lane, Harri Millard, Garyn Smith, Jarrod Evans, Mike Hale; Corey Domachowski/Rob Lewis, Ethan Lewis/Liam Belcher, Dillon Lewis/Kieron Assirratti, Shane Lewis Hughes, Callum Bradbury, Jordan Viggers, Morgan Sieniawski, James Sheekey.
With that to be supplemented by reserve senior team players as well as the best Cardiff RFC have to offer from their current crop, coached by a Cardiff Blues implemented management team possibly including Matthew Rees, it will be player development heaven. Finally it’s been realised that the Rags should be the proper Cardiff Blues A team. Whether there’s political undertones to the move or not (there definitely is), the future of Cardiff Rugby is looking brighter by the week. Come on Cardiff!