Warren Gatland backs Anglo-Welsh competition
Warren Gatland has given his backing to an Anglo-Welsh competition and says it is a concept that should always be “on the table”.
Rugby union history is crammed with traditional cross-border club rivalries, especially during the sport’s pre-professional era.
The attraction to supporters – and potentially cash-strapped Welsh regional teams – remains, and was recently underlined when Cardiff had a 12,000 full house at the Arms Park against Investec Champions Cup opponents Harlequins, while more than 10,000 attended for Bath’s visit in December.
An official Anglo-Welsh competition previously existed in the form of a knockout tournament that ran from 2005 until 2018.
Leicester won it three times, while there were also successes for the likes of Northampton, Gloucester and Exeter.
The first four finals were held at Twickenham, attracting crowds of between 43,000 and 65,000, with two of those tournaments being won by Ospreys and Cardiff.
The competition comprised Premiership clubs and four Welsh regions, and the success of recent Anglo-Welsh fixtures in Europe highlighted how they are a winner with fans.
“I’ve always said from a Welsh perspective we should always have an Anglo-Welsh competition on the table,” Wales head coach Gatland said.
“For me that is not about the present, that is about history.
“It’s the history of those clubs like Newport, Cardiff or whatever, playing teams that are pretty close to the border in terms of Gloucester, Bath, and you’ve got Exeter now, so that goes back a long time to those traditional rivalries.
“That is something England and Wales, as unions, should potentially have going forward (an Anglo-Welsh league).
“I know the impact it might have on other competitions, but if we are just looking after ourselves and what would benefit Welsh rugby there could be an Anglo-Welsh league, and that can potentially be successful for England and Wales.”
Gatland, meanwhile, says that Wales could “potentially” look at its current 25-cap rule for players plying their trade outside of the country.
Those moving out of Wales must have won a minimum of 25 caps to remain eligible for Gatland’s squad.
It was cut from 60 caps last year as part of a new Professional Rugby Agreement signed by Wales’ four professional regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.
Asked if Welsh rugby should look at the rule, Gatland said: “Yeah, potentially.
“The problem with the 25-cap law at the moment is that there is only one team who gets penalised.
“If players who haven’t got 25 caps leave Wales we haven’t got an opportunity to select them, so it is always an ongoing discussion.”
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