Ah, Welsh Rugby! Is there ever a quiet week in this strange and confusing world? Well if there is it certainly wasn’t this one, with the news that Cardiff Blues could well be taken over full-time by the Welsh Rugby Union.
Now this blog will be totally personal to me. It’s not an attempt to influence other people’s decisions or any appeal to the Cardiff Blues board or the WRU, it’s just how I feel about this week’s news and what happens next for me.
What I would say is that not everyone will agree with me on this, I know that, but there’s no need to get abusive. I totally respect if people have views opposite to those which I am about to express, but to get childish or insulting adds nothing to the situation.
Firstly, I’d like to say that the lack of official updates from the WRU and/or Cardiff Blues for fans has been nothing short of disgraceful, but that’ll be a blog for another time. As such this is just my thought processes on two main hypothetical situations.
These may well change over time, but blogging is cheaper than therapy which we probably all need having been involved with rugby in Wales in some way, shape or form.
It is possible that the Welsh Rugby Union will turn their temporary role into a permanent takeover of the Cardiff Blues, similar to the Newport Gwent Dragons situation, although not identical.
Now I was prepared for the ‘babysitting’, as it was being termed, to facilitate the process of moving between the old Arms Park and the new stadium. It was obvious we were going to take a hit financially which we needed support with. However, the WRU having a full-time role at the region does not sit well with me.
To put it simply, I don’t trust the WRU. I don’t trust they have enough money to really make a success of running one region, let alone two, I don’t trust that they can attract any sort of private investment that is needed to push the teams up to a really competitive level and I don’t trust that they won’t meddle in team selection to benefit Team Wales.
Would that stop me supporting though? The answer lies in the team selection issue. If there became evidence that the WRU were going to interfere in team selection solely to suit Team Wales then I would have to consider my support.
I know people will say ‘oh you should support the team no matter who is out on the field’, but my situation is somewhat different from a lot of people’s in that I travel back and forth from Llanelli to watch games. It’s a two hour round journey, money on petrol, usually food, and due to working shifts I have to take time off to attend games if they don’t fall on days off.
Where’s the motivation to do that if a purposely weakened team is going to be put out? Especially when we don’t have the required depth to enable us to rest Team Wales players when the WRU want. My mind goes straight to the Scarlets game at home, lost due to international players being unable to play.
Here we go, the big debate! Well for me there is no debate, the name is non-negotiable. If ‘Cardiff’ goes then I go.
I’m aware of what people will say. ‘Throwing your toys out of the pram’, ‘it’s only a name’, etc, etc. However to me, that is who I support. Cardiff is my team. They’re the reason I’ve done almost 1,300 miles on home games alone this season. Without the Cardiff name I would feel nothing towards the club.
‘Blues’ is meaningless to me, it’s an empty brand. If you revert to non-geographical names in full-on representative regional rugby, then I should go and support Scarlets as my postcode falls within their region. I don’t want to do that though, I feel nothing towards them. Except jealousy that they have their Llanelli RFC history maybe.
The ownership situation I can live with. I don’t trust the WRU, but then again I don’t trust those in charge currently. Having the Union in charge might alter my support slightly, but I’d still be there. Without the name there is nothing there for me though.
‘It’s exactly the same players and coaches though’. Cardiff Rugby is bigger than any group of players, it’s bigger than any group of fans and it’s definitely bigger than any one owner. We are merely the current custodians of 140 years of history.
Union ownership might come, Union ownership might go. The Cardiff Rugby name should live on. You look at the Irish Provinces and they still have their own identities under IRFU rule, I don’t see why we can’t be any different here.
Overall we live in uncertain times, there’s no doubt about that. Hopefully the picture will become clearer over the next few weeks, and it should do as both the Cardiff Blues and WRU have a duty to keep fans informed, but until then I’m going to leave off speculation.
Interviews from individuals in newspapers or rumours on social media are unhelpful, so let’s ignore them and get behind the players. There’s a big game on Friday, so normal rugby service will be resumed until then. Come on Cardiff!!