DRAGONS TEAM: TAGS: Newport Gwent Dragons Newport Gwent Dragons have named their team to take on European champions Stade Toulousain in the Heineken Cup this Saturday at the Stade Ernest Wallon.There is a re-shuffle in the backs as Adam Hughes switches from the wing to his preferred position of outside centre, whilst Nathan Brew comes in to partner his brother Aled on the wings. Will Harries continues at full-back, as do Ashley Smith at inside centre and Jason Tovey at outside half. Wayne Evans returns at scrum half, having missed the Connacht match last week through injury. Pat Leach, Matthew Jones and James Leadbeater are the replacement backs.Dan Lydiate return after an injury scare last week, joining Gavin Thomas and Toby Faletau in the back row. Lewis Evans, who proved a more than able deputy last week, is on the bench. Luke Charteris also comes back into the starting line-up, partnering Scott Morgan in the second row, with Rob Sidoli as back-up. Hooker Tom Willis captains the side, with Phil Price and Ben Castle the starting props. Steve Jones, Gethin Robinson and Pat Palmer provide the front row cover.The French side were the victors at Rodney Parade back in October by 40 points to 19 despite a spirited performance from the hosts. The Dragons’ previous trip to Toulouse ended in a 26-7 defeat in December 2008, in the first of back-to-back Heineken Cup games. The Men of Gwent were defeated 26-13 in the return leg the following week at Rodney Parade. W Harries, N Brew, A Hughes, A Smith, A Brew, J Tovey, W Evans; P Price, T Willis (c), B Castle, L Charteris, S Morgan, D Lydiate, G Thomas, T Faletau.Replacements: S Jones, G Robinson, P Palmer, R Sidoli, L Evans, J Leadbeater, P Leach, M Jones. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Replacements (16-23) Nigel Brady, Bryan Young, Declan Fitzpatrick, Tim Barker, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Ian Whitten, David McIlwaine TAGS: Ulster LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The match is not yet sold out and tickets are still available. Ulster Rugby would advise supporters coming to the game (gates open 2pm) to avoid parking in the immediate vicinity of the Ravenhill Grounds where restrictions may be in place, and instead make use of the Park ‘n’ Ride facilities at Pirrie Park and along Montgomery Road.For supporters interested in using public transport from the city centre, there is also a Translink Metro service running from Chichester Street to Forestside along the Cregagh Road, which stops at Onslow Parade and from there it is just a short walk to the ground. Journey time is approx 10-12 minutes, for more details visit www.translink.co.ukULSTER (15-9) Adam D’Arcy; Andrew Trimble, Nevin Spence, Paddy Wallace, Simon Danielli; Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar (1-8) Tom Court, Rory Best (Captain), BJ Botha, Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Stephen Ferris, Willie Faloon, Pedrie Wannenburg The Ulster team and replacements to face Biarritz tomorrow in the crucial Round 5 Heineken Cup pool game at Ravenhill (ko 3.30pm) has been named.There are just two changes to the starting line-up from that which defeated Treviso at Ravenhil last Friday.Dan Tuohy starts in the second row with Tim Barker moving to the bench while Stephen Ferris, who made a successful return from injury, coming off the bench last week, starts on the blind-side flank with Chris Henry providing cover.With qualification for the quarter-final stage of the Heineken Cup competition still very much in Ulster’s hands, Saturday’s match against Biarritz represents one of the most important games in Ulster’s history, a win ensuring that Brian McLaughlin’s men are still very much in contention, ahead of their trip to Aironi next Saturday, for a quarter-final spot.
Now the Six Nations is over, all eyes are undoubtedly on the Rugby World Cup. However, there is a debate to be had about whether there should be more teams in the 2023 edition of the competition.The question cropped up when World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said in March: “As the sport grows and we conquer new markets the discussion is about looking towards expanding (of the World Cup), rather than contracting.”Undeniably money comes into it, with the word ‘markets’ notable. A bigger spread of team would almost certainly mean a longer tournament and more games to sell tickets for or air on television. New nations competing could mean more opportunity to advertise, with new audiences tuning in. However, we have to ask: what do you want? Maybe you worry that smaller teams would be open to shellackings at the hands of Tier One nations. Perhaps you would like to see fewer teams, and a more competitive competition. Maybe you feel it’s fine as it is, with 20 teams involved. What it’s all about: Could more teams be fighting for this in 2023? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Below is a poll. Let us know how many teams you think there should be at the World Cup. This poll will appear in the May issue of Rugby World magazine.How many teams should there be in the Rugby World Cup?162024VoteView ResultsCrowdsignal.comHow many teams should there be in the Rugby World Cup?
“He is going to play for us for the next few years. He loves rugby union, he is settled in Bath and he knows he is a six,” Ford added.“Proving he is an international back-rower is the big challenge now for Sam. He’s always been a No. 6 for us, no question. We’ve talked about next time the England squad gets selected, his goal’s got to be to be there as a six.” With the England stars set to return to their club sides early after their final game of the tournament against Uruguay on Saturday, Ford believes Burgess has the opportunity to impress on the blindside against some of the best in the world as Bath kick off their European and domestic campaigns.The England squad is likely to undergo an overhaul both on and off the pitch following the World Cup failure, meaning Burgess could fight for a place in the pack for the Six Nations campaign. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Sam Burgess has no desire to head back to rugby league after a disappointing England World Cup campaign, according to his coach at Bath, Mike Ford.In fact, Ford says the former Super League and NRL player wants to secure a place as a flanker for his country’s squad for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.Bath played him in the back row numerous times at the end of the 2014/15 season, having initially weened him into the game at centre, and Ford insists that’s the position he was destined to play.“The last conversation I had with him, he was going to extend his contract with us and he wanted to go for the next World Cup,” Ford was quoted as saying by the Times. Bath coach Mike Ford insists Sam Burgess wants to challenge for a place in the pack for England’s next squad, rubbishing rumours that he’ll head back to rugby league Sam Burgess playing at flanker for Bath
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Markedly different approachWales beat Italy by 67-14 in what was as dramatic a seven-day change in tactics as you’ll witness in modern test rugby. Gone were the predictable straight lines and seeking of contact, and in came an expansive passing game. What was even more pleasing to see were players passing before contact – a rare treat in Northern Hemisphere rugby. To put it in perspective, Wales passed the ball 238 times against Italy, but just 89 times against England, 100 against France, 89 times against Scotland and 178 times against Ireland.Throw it about: Jonathan Davies was one of many players to throw of the shackles and playWales varied their use of Jamie Roberts with a series of ‘miss-ones’ that the Italian defensive line struggled to read – George North sauntering through Kelly Haimona’s channel being a prime example. With Rhys Webb’s sniping runs holding the Italian forwards narrow, and Wales’ new found width in midfield, the Welsh backs ran riot. Combine the Welsh backs’ dominance with a 100% lineout completion, particularly clean ball from the middle jumpers and a problem free scrum and Wales scored nine tries and ran over 700 metres – that’s Super Rugby numbers.Jamie Roberts 40th consecutive Championship appearanceJamie Roberts had another good performance against Italy and revelled in the freedom he was afforded – carrying the ball nearly double his average for the tournament. This isn’t to say that he didn’t ‘truck’ the ball up when needed, he did, just ask Guglielmo Palazzani whose collision with Roberts looked like something from a Japanese Sci-Fi epic. But Roberts’ most impressive figure from the weekend is that it was his 40th consecutive Championship game.Mr Consistent: Jamie Roberts has played 40 consecutive Six Nations gameYup, 40th! That’s an insane number when you consider how competitive test rugby is. But what makes that figure even more remarkable is that Jamie Roberts remains injury free for such long periods of time. He plays the game at the very limit of the physicality spectrum. His reputation is such that he is regularly double- hit by backrow forwards and yet rarely leaves the field before the final whistle. In fact, as a doctor, he’s probably breaking the Hippocratic Oath, on himself, by not recommending that he shouldn’t play rugby in the manner that he does. Hat Tip Mr Roberts.Vintage George North. If a 23-year-old wine can be labelled vintage, then so can a rugby player. George North’s performance against Italy was further evidence that his confidence has fully returned having suffered a series of serious concussions last season. North was back to his high knee lifting, lateral moving, Jurassic Park best, where some of his line breaks make him look like a different species as he runs past the camera.All aboard: The George North steam train in full motion against ItalyHe carried 148 genuine yards, with very few cheap kick return yards, made five clean breaks and beat five defenders. North was hugely competent under the highball, and in his offloading game. But the real measure of his returned confidence was the line that he ran for his 48th minute try. Six months ago, having made a clean line break through the 12 channel North would probably have taken the outside arc towards the support of Jon Davies. On Saturday, he dug his left leg in, ran outside-to-in and stormed under the posts unopposed. Ross Moriarty – a viable optionRoss Moriarty had an impressive game against Italy, having replaced Justin Tipuric after 16 minutes. He is a very different player to any of Wales’ backrow options. A former full-back, Moriarty is a swift and genuinely powerful carrier. In fact he was Wales’ top carrier in the forwards with 46 yards and let’s not forget he also scored two tries.Sudden impact: Ross Moriarty showed he was a viable option in the backrow for WalesBut what separates Moriarty is his genuine desire for a big carry. He isn’t interested in a three yard rumble and recycle, he hits every angle and contact as if it will be a YouTube carry. Moriarty could be hugely beneficial when Wales arrive in New Zealand, especially on the dry pitch under the Forsyth Barr Stadium, DunedinIt’s good to see the Welsh players smile.It’s very easy for modern rugby to lose its ‘smile’. Such is the pressure on coaches and players to perform that fun is an afterthought in professional rugby. That’s why it was so good to see the Welsh squad actually smiling as they played and particularly as they scored. The freedom with which Wales played allowed three or four senior Welsh players to open the cage door and step out into the wild. Particularly Jon Davies who threw 14 passes against Italy, yet just three against Scotland.Smiler: Rhys Webb was one of many Welsh player to enjoy himself on SaturdayIt was good to see a Welsh outside centre with the confidence to try a few risky ‘slap-passes’ to his wings. The Italian performance was substandard against Wales, which must obviously be taken into account, and Wales did throw the odd ‘casual’ pass, but don’t let it override what was a happy day for Welsh rugby and where risk was rewarded. Modern rugby needs more of it.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. Wales get their passing game going, play with smiles on their faces, Jamie Roberts is Mr Consistent and George North is back with a bang That’s a wrap: The Wales players take their applause from the crowd
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS MATT DAWSON produced arguably the greatest dummy in rugby history against South Africa in 1997. Playing at scrum-half for the Lions in the first Test of the series, Dawson broke from the back of a scrum just outside the 22 and then shaped to pass back inside when around ten metres from the line before sprinting over to score a try himself. The fact four Springbok defenders bought his dummy meant Dawson had the space to touch down.Ben Youngs set up two tries in England’s November 2016 Test against the Springboks with a dummy, fooling Pieter-Steph du Toit on both occasions.Selling a dummy can be a great way to score or create a try – but you have to make sure you convince your opponent that you are going to pass the ball. To do this you need to make sure you use your head, hands and hips to give the impression you are going to pass.Make sure you get your timing right too. Shape to pass late enough that the defender has no time to react when you run but early enough that you don’t run into the defender. Watch the video to see mini rugby players demonstrating how to sell a dummy – then try it out with your team-mates in training. Once you can outfox them, you can try it in a match. This is just one of a series of videos from Rugby World showing mini rugby players how to perform various skills, from the two-on-one to the jack-knife roll. The aim is to help improve players’ all-round game.Rugby World magazine features a ‘How To’ section each month, with a guide on a specific technique, and there is also a training game that will help develop skills like teamwork, communication and support play as well as keeping players entertained.To see the latest subscription offers click here and find out how you can download the digital edition of Rugby World here. A video showing mini rugby players how to sell a dummy
The Munster back-rower puts in towering display in first Irish win v New Zealand in Dublin Coach Russell Earnshaw playfully captured a sense of O’Mahony’s physical exertions. He hurt himself around the 50-minute mark, but powered on. Perhaps few moments will sum up the Munsterman’s force of will than when he got back to snuff out this All Blacks attack. Van der Flier was not the only one to heap praise on O’Mahony. Members of the rugby media were full of plaudits. Around a minute later, O’Mahony was again getting over the ball to kill All Blacks momentum and claim a crucial turnover.Related: See the reaction to Ireland’s win over New ZealandWhen the talismanic back-row was finally called upon to leave the field, the fans at the Aviva sounded their appreciation. …And after the final whistle the cameras caught this moment from the man of the match. He simply got caught up in it all! By all accounts the writing was on the wall for this performance early doors, though… Ireland, a brilliantly coached team, showed just how good they have become. Johnny Sexton showed why he should be World Player of the Year. Peter O’Mahony showed why nobody has a bigger heart in world rugby. Wayne Barnes showed why he deserves a World Cup Final before retirement.— Miles Harrison (@skysportsmiles) November 17, 2018 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSSkip AdAds by Peter O’Mahony emerges as hero of Ireland’s win over All BlacksIT WAS a display for the ages from the Irish team, but after the game there was one name on everyone’s lips.Peter O’Mahony was deservedly named man of the match in Ireland’s monumental 16-9 win over the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium and since the final whistle the praise has simply not stopped.The Munster back-rower could barely make it past the hour mark, such was the level of pain he put himself through for the Irish cause, but he played an enormous role in handing the Irish public a moment to savour forever.Related: Historic win for Ireland over New Zealand in DublinThere were flashpoints through his performance where O’Mahony influenced proceedings, but some moments stand out. For example, there was a crucial turnover from O’Mahony around the 46th minute. Barely a minute later, he claimed the lineout that would lead to a Bundee Aki move finding Jacob Stockdale, who scored the vital try. Post match, fellow flanker Josh van der Flier talked of O’Mahony’s brilliance. So the clash between the top two sides in the world lived up to the hype.Bring on the Rugby World Cup! Enjoying the moment: Peter O’Mahony celebrates beating New Zealand Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Australia cry foul as England end autumn campaign on a highHas there ever been a month like it? For the third time in four weeks at Twickenham, discussion raged about a single decision. Unlike the late calls in the nail-biting Tests against South Africa and New Zealand, the latest controversy came halfway through a match that England ended up winning convincingly.England’s 37-18 win against Australia was their sixth successive success in the fixture and, but for Israel Folau’s second try after the clock had turned red, would have matched the record 24-point margin achieved by Eddie Jones’s men last year.Michael Cheika was apoplectic on that occasion, as three TMO decisions went against his side, and he showed considerable restraint this time as England benefited from what can only be called a shocking call.Australia were trailing 13-10 just before half-time when Izack Rodda broke through near the line and was stopped by a clear shoulder barge by Owen Farrell.No arms: Owen Farrell tackles Izack Rodda in the incident that had the Wallabies raging (Getty Images)The days of the legal shoulder-charge tackle, as exemplified by JPR Williams’s legendary challenge on France wing Jean-Francois Gourdon in 1976, died out long ago. However, referee Jaco Peyper decided that Rodda had been equally to blame for the juddering collision that stopped Rodda in his tracks.Australia kicked a penalty awarded for offside to go in all-square, but they should have been awarded a penalty try and, given the near certainty that Rodda would have scored had Farrell made a lower and legal tackle, probably seen England’s co-captain dispatched to the sin-bin for good measure.Has that occurred, Farrell would not have been on the pitch early in the second half when he set up Elliot Daly with an offload for the try that restored England’s advantage. Cheika also took issue with the Dane Haylett-Petty try on 26 minutes that was disallowed – somewhat belatedly – for a forward pass. The wing’s long pass to Samu Kerevi in the build-up appeared to be clearly forward but Peyper, after consulting with his assistant Glen Jackson, decided to award the score.“The guy (Matt To’omua) was about to go back and kick the goal (conversion),” said Cheika, “and it was shown on the screen five times in a row until someone took notice. And then the TMO (Marius Jonker) decided he was going to check it and within 30 seconds they decided it was a no try. It’s a 25-metre pass and it goes backwards out of his hands. There was time for Manu Tuilagi to raise a cheer when appearing for his first Test action in 32 months and for Farrell to cross before Folau’s second try rounded off an eventful series.Eddie Jones was delighted by what he saw as a traditional English performance – scrum, lineout maul, defence – and claimed not to even notice the ball-carrying of tighthead Kyle Sinckler that helped earn him the Man of the Match award. For the record, the Harlequins prop made 12 carries (with six gain-line successes), five tackles and one turnover.The Wallabies missed the injured David Pocock as much as they feared at the breakdown, conceding seven turnovers in the first half alone.Lethal: Israel Folau scores Australia’s first try – it’s the eighth time he has scored two tries in a Test (Getty)“I trust my instincts and play what I see,” said Sinckler, who quelled the murmurings that his set-piece work is not quite up to Test standard. He joined Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mark Wilson on the shortlist for England’s Player of the Quilter Series and for what’s it worth, Rugby World would give it to Itoje without a second’s hesitation.The Saracens lock continues to give away some silly penalties but his abrasive physicality and disruptiveness makes him a huge menace to opponents. If he can find similar form in Japan next year, England will be well on their way to having a very good competition.“Maro continues to grow; he’s going to be the best lock in the world,” said Jones, who was at pains to douse any suggestion that victory over his home country, and the nation that sacked him 13 years ago, had extra meaning for him.“It’s not about playing against Australia, mate. It’s about us getting better as a team,” he said. “I’m coaching England. I love English players, love them. It wouldn’t matter if it was Argentina or Afghanistan today, all we want to do is play good rugby. I have no interest in just beating Australia.” Luck deserts the Wallabies at Twickenham but there’s no doubting England’s superiority as they rack up a 37-18 win to complete a successful November series To his credit, in the post-match press conference Cheika made it clear that the right team won the match, saying: “England were the better team. They had us under pressure for many moments of the game. So I don’t want it (the Rodda decision) to be seen like a carry-on.“But the justification that Rodda tried to take him (Farrell) on with his shoulder is ludicrous. That’s how you carry the ball.“I went to the referees’ meeting they had here in the first week before the Wales game and they referred back to the Owen Farrell tackle against South Africa. And the referees said that should have been a penalty, in front of all the coaches. Now if that’s a penalty, this is three penalties.”Wallaby skipper Michael Hooper was similarly dismayed. “I was surprised it was turned around against us. As a ball-carrier you carry with your shoulder. I was surprised that there was no look at it (on the big screen).” Final nail: England celebrate Owen Farrell’s try that helped them to a sixth successive win v Australia “Move forward to the one on 40 minutes, there’s no look whatsoever. I was asking why there was no look and the fourth official told our manager time was up. That is not an excuse as to why he can’t look at the video replay.”There was a time when referees went far too readily to their TMO, with funnily enough the England-Fiji game at RWC 2015 – when Peyper was the referee – one of the most extreme cases; the TMO stoppages that day amounted to more than ten minutes.A directive to rein it back in was required but are referees now failing to call on the video assistance when it’s crying out to be used?Calm before the storm: Michael Cheika signs a ball for a young England fan prior to the match (Getty)Earlier this season, Karl Dickson twice awarded tries in the Newcastle-Wasps game that were then chalked off after TMO Sean Davey intervened. Dickson also came close to playing on instead of checking the footage that showed Josh Bassett had scored a try.Lest we should be accused of being too personal here, we should point out that Dickson and Peyper are both fine referees. They sometimes make mistakes like the rest of us do.More than likely, Dickson was taking a desire not to ‘go upstairs’ too often too close to heart, but the balance has arguably swung too far the other way. Replays of marginal incidents need to be looked at – the technology is there for that reason.The incidents deflected from a strong England showing, particularly in the scrum. Australia’s problems started in the opening minute when Will Genia, on his 100th Test appearance, fumbled the ball slightly as he fetched it from a ruck and Ben Youngs charged down Haylett-Petty’s attempted clearance. England won a scrum, shoved the visitors back with ominous ease, and Jonny May was put in at the corner for his 18th try in 40 Tests.First blood: Jonny May scores England’s first try to spark a ninth loss in 13 Tests this year for AustraliaEngland seemed comfortable at 13-3 shortly before half-time but Folau’s try from a brilliant unders line gave them a wake-up. Daly’s try, followed by a second in two games for Joe Cokanasiga after Haylett-Petty dropped off a tackle, re-established England’s dominance and when Scott Sio collapsed a scrum, Farrell’s penalty took England three scores clear. Related content: How England selection is shaping upDynamo: Kyle Sinckler bursts through Wallaby ranks. Only Mark Wilson (17) made more carries (Getty)Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS How To Qualify For The 2023 Rugby World Cup Meet Rugby World Cup Superfan ‘Bak-san’There will be plenty of stars on the pitch at the 2019 Rugby World Cup but there one man who has fast become a star in the stands as well, the man known as Bak-san.In his everyday life he is known as Hiroshi Moriyama but he has picked up the nickname thanks to growth as a global social media sensation. Since the tournament began on the 20th of September, Moriyama has painted his torso the colour of each nations jersey and by the end of the event he looks to have painted himself the colour of the 20 nations competing. He has tickets to match 27 of the games so it is only a matter of time. He even did two matches in one day on the 3rd of October as you can see below! Expand The man who paints himself with each teams jersey has become a huge sensation. How To Qualify For The 2023 Rugby World… Also make sure you know about the Groups, Warm-ups, Dates, Fixtures, Venues, TV Coverage, and Qualified Teams by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Both Scott and Beauden knocked the ball on… Expand WATCH: Barrett Brothers Drop Two Certain Tries How To Qualify For The 2023 Rugby World Cup Hosting their first World Cup, Japan made history… Collapse Japan Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Japan Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide [email protected] san You are a legend.Two #RWC2019 games in one day. #Kansaicommute #RWCHanazono #RWCKobe #rugbyjp #BakSansBack pic.twitter.com/hUmGSvFiuc— Rich Freeman (@FreemanrugbyJPN) October 3, 2019“I started doing this five years ago, at a Top League game,” Moriyama told the Japan Times.“Most Japanese rugby fans are quiet when they watch games, and I thought it would be good if they were a bit noisier,” he said. “I took that to the extreme in the hope that other people would see me having fun.”The painting process is less fun though as it usually takes a couple of hours for his wife, Rika, to complete the intricate detail of the jerseys.“There are some really small details which look difficult to do,” he said. “I don’t do anything. I just stand there.” Nobody can fault the commitment here especially given the temperature at some of the matches. Some games held in northern cities like Sapporo and Kamaishi yield cold temperatures but he never sees that as an issue;“I just put up with it,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of fat, so that keeps me warm.”Moriyama works in an office in his every day life and yet when all the rugby fans have gone home and the tournament has finished, he is hoping his exploits can help create a positive legacy.“People who aren’t rugby fans will come to know the sport through this tournament,” he said. “I would love it if more people started to play rugby and there was an environment where kids can keep playing.”As Japan take on South Africa in the last quarter-final of the tournament, you would think he would be in Japanese colours but he is in fact wearing the colours of the Springboks! Bak San’s back for his second quarter-final at Rugby World Cup 2019 and he’s wearing @Springboks’ colours#BackSansBack #RWC2019 #WebbEllisCup @saiusujersey pic.twitter.com/XC7A8ZZ0RX— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 20, 2019Follow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. WATCH: Barrett Brothers Drop Two Certain Tries
“These clubs would retain their identity and history, which is so important for engagement”Obviously, there aren’t enough players for the 12 Premiership clubs, so they will have strict development criteria and need to attract players. The Premiership needs to continue as a semi-pro league, though salaries should be capped. The league should offer the opportunity to players who haven’t come through the academies to put their hands up to be a full-time pro. Crucially, these clubs would retain their identity and history, which is so important for engagement.The Welsh Championship would be four regional leagues of eight teams, the winners of each playing in inter-regional semi-finals and a final to determine who replaces the relegated Premiership club.This model is inclusive and is an impassioned plea for the WRU to do the right thing to save Welsh rugby. The plan seeks to ensure the pathway to being a pro player is transparent and allows a ‘shop window’ for supporters to become engaged in Welsh rugby again.This article originally appeared in the September 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine. Empty seats: A depleted crowd at Scarlets v Blues in December (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Swansea season-ticker holder Simon Phillips believes Welsh rugby needs a shake-up Rugby Rant: Overhaul Welsh rugbyWho could have imagined in 1990 that the state of Welsh domestic rugby would now be so bad? Regional rugby has helped to improve standards, but since it was implemented many supporters have walked away from the game. People often say that TV money is king, but I find the decline in attendances alarming. Why are people not engaged? The answer, seemingly, is identity.The development pathway is also exclusionary. Some thrive in a regional academy but others are put off, and many potential players are missing the opportunity to play competitive rugby.The whole of Welsh rugby needs to be overhauled. The WRU should decide on the players they need to retain to make four ‘touring squads’: Wales, Wales A, Wales B, Wales U21. Those players should then be centrally contracted.To achieve success at all levels, the professional game and the community game should be separated. The WRU, the regions and the Welsh Premiership sides need to pool their collective business acumen to develop four new professional sides under the umbrella of the union: Mid and West Wales, South Wales and Valleys, East Wales and border, and Mid and North Wales. These sides would play in the Guinness Pro14 and Europe, with the players not involved playing in the Welsh Premiership.Central contracts will ensure that there are four competitive sides playing. Each centrally-contracted player will have a club assigned to them as well as a pro side. For example, Josh Navidi could turn out for both Cardiff RFC and South Wales and Valleys in the same season. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.