All posts by Ddraeg


Three Little Words

I drove from London to Port Talbot last weekend to get as close as possible to the EGM. What motivated me to do this? I wasn’t invited. What could get me so riled that I wanted to make my presence felt?

I can tell you that it was none of the following:

A CEO who earns three times the salary of the British Prime Minister but can’t pull off a deal with the Regions despite spending two years trying.

A CEO who says he doesn’t “do financials” and stated this at the EGM.

A Union which runs short of cash despite reducing its net bank debt by £13.3 million between 2010 and 2012.

A Union that manipulates the Welsh Media in order to prevent anything nasty getting into the public domain, while at the same accusing the BBC of giving the detractors the ‘oxygen of publicity’.

A CEO who writes any opponents off as “mischief-makers”, while at the same stating that he is maintaining a ‘dignified silence’.

A completely botched League Restructure, carried out on a whim and resulting in Division 2 sides ending up in Division 6.

No, it was none of these things. What made me drive 200 miles? It was one thing, and one thing only, said by Roger Lewis in a BBC interview in 2013. When discussing the Regions and the impact of not signing the Participation Agreement, Roger Lewis said “[the regions will] cease to exist”.

Those three little words incensed me. They incensed me because I am passionate about Welsh rugby. Anyone capable of casting clubs off in such a callous fashion does not have the best interests of Welsh rugby at heart. The fact is that our CEO does not care about Welsh rugby.

When I do some digging outside the EGM, I realise that the League Restructure had very little to do with cost-saving for clubs. It was cost-saving for the Union. If teams get mismatched under the Restructure, clubs will close or collapse financially. Will the CEO care? Probably not. If he’s OK with a Region going to the wall, why would he worry about a Div6 club going under? With a handful of clubs disappearing, the Union can spread the butter a bit thicker on the remaining clubs. The CEO’s own club – Cefn Cribwr, where he himself is President – has certainly had both the butter and the jam with its new clubhouse. I wonder which Division this club has ended up in.

So is this is just my opinion? Maybe, but David Moffett, a Regional CEO, and two other clubs have agreed with me. The Union wants to reduce the number of clubs.

Am I a mischief-maker, a keyboard warrior and one of the Twitter Twenty? Maybe, but I also coach U13, and am Honorary Secretary of a Rugby Club.

The EGM didn’t change anything. But Gerald Davies has spoken up, John Taylor has spoken up, and, finally, the world’s greatest rugby player has spoken up, proclaiming “all is not rosy in the garden”.

There is only one way really to get rid of a CEO who doesn’t really care about Welsh rugby, and that is for the Chairman to sack him. So either Dai Pickering does it, or we get a new Chairman at the AGM and the meeting does it. Either way, Roger is going, the only question is, who pushes him?

I don’t know if TGRD will stand for Chairman or even interim Chairman, but I do know that someone will be standing at the AGM, will get the oxygen of publicity, and will have the interests of Welsh rugby in their heart.

Three little words.


Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from

The sum total of desperation

A statement was recently released by the WRU purporting to outline its philosophy and success with debt. I’m no accountant but I do have an MBA which makes me very good at spotting a bullshitter.

Here is their statement in full:-

WRU Bulletin to clubs – bank debt

The Welsh Rugby Union, in response to questions from its member clubs, has decided to address recent comment about its debt management policies since 2006, suggesting they are hindering re-investment into the game. This is not the case as this note clearly outlines.

Through negotiation with the bank since 2006 the WRU has:

- reduced its interest rates by 58% from 6.5% to 4.1%

– kept its cash repayments at exactly the same levels
- achieved a course to become debt free by 2021
– boosted reinvestment into rugby by 86% from £11.8m to £22m a year

The negotiated drop in interest rates has, between 2006 and 2013, reduced the interest costs by £1.8m which is now available to plough back into Welsh rugby year on year.

By sound financial management and ensuring compliance with the banking terms, the WRU wishes to avoid the conditions of repayment of the original £10m loan being met.

Since 2006 the WRU has carried out two successful renegotiations with Barclays Bank plc which have allowed the governing body to make its banking arrangement far more flexible and to reduce its interest costs. The overall bank debt stood at just below £19.5m in 2013 down from its 2006 level of £39.1m.

It is important to note that the fundamental priority of the WRU is not to become debt free but to manage its loans in an efficient and flexible manner to drive down its interest costs to promote further re-investment in the game.

If the WRU were to seek to renegotiate its current debt structure the interest rate of 4.1% would probably rise meaning that money currently invested in the game would be paid in interest instead each year and the term of the arrangement would reduce.

In simple terms the current debt repayment structure is a valuable business asset in that it helps us invest more money into the game year on year.

The successful bank negotiations mean that the vastly improved loan terms have been achieved without a penny increase in the annual cash repayments since 2006.

One core reason why the banks now have renewed confidence in the WRU is that since 2006 our turnover has gone up by 32% from £46.1m to £61m.

The increased turnover and revised banking arrangements have helped the reinvestment into the game since 2006 rise 102% into the Regional game, 50% into the Premiership Division and 48% into the community game. The revised banking arrangements have very much aided the re-investment and not hindered it.

In figures those increases are:

- from £8.3m to £16.8m for the Regions
– from £0.8m to £1.2m for the Premiership
– and from £2.7m to £4.0m for the community game

The WRU wants to put on record its gratitude to Barclays Bank for the confidence it shows in the governing body and continued support.


So, do they want to be debt free or not? They think they are some kind of financial wizard ‘negotiating’ with Barclays Bank but have only managed to do this twice in 8 years!

The genius of the maths is the reduction in interest rates. The WRU think moving interest from 6.5% to 4.1% is a 58% reduction. I may have an MBA but my 12 year old will put them right on this, it’s actually 37%.

This begs the question, are they competent enough to manage a business turning over £61 million? Or are they being smart, thinking they can kid every one with their bluster?

So the WRU don’t know if they want to be debt free or not, don’t know how to calculate simple percentages and can only manage bank negotiations every four years. And why do they still think they are “investing” £16.8 million in the regional game when > more than 10 million is just broadcasting money which is passed straight through to the regions.

Either, the WRU are fools OR they think we are. Unfortunately I think it’s both.

Gwlad is NOT shit shocker! The Collective Consciousness of Sheep

Virtually every community in Wales has a rugby club. But how many virtual communities can boast the same?

There is one Welsh community based in the ether that has managed to create and actually play as an official rugby club. RFC is a bona-fide, WRU registered club. Its players talk a lot about rugby, mostly bullshit, but rarely put on a pair of boots – outside the bedroom.

The halcyon days of their rugby prowess were not in their youth, it never happened. Rose-tinted, redefined memories. Their ability improved with age, their proximity to once being a shoe-in for a Welsh Cap becomes closer with every new inflammation of their piles.

But how can a chat forum have the ubiquitous posts visible in every village and town of Wales? Posts are the remit of PhilBB, post-master general, no greater erector of posts than he. And unlike the askew and rusty posts in the villages, the posts of Gwlad are a paragon of spelling, grammar and punctuation. This mostly due to Chili, the pedant master, a man whose sole purpose is to keep posts straight and correct.

So GwladRugby RFC gets to play on Cardiff Arms Park. PhilBB is upset, it’s HIS ground and HIS favourite club – we feel like the son-in-law who didn’t ask the bride’s father for her hand.

Timekeeper for the match? It’s not Gouldina, he doesn’t have a watch – he thinks the world can be run from an Android phone – he needs to tell ATTR, the Ref.

And so it is, a bunch of bullshitting rugby fans have the collective wherewithal to organise a charity match at Cardiff Arms Park on the day of the Wales v. South Africa International match. A game against Magor Vets – we’re assuming Veterans rather than animal doctors.

The cause is in support of the family of Stuart Williams, the Ponty Prop, who died suddenly on 21st October.
So it’s 9th November, noon kick-off and donations via

If the players can get off the computer and make an effort the least ewe can do is pop along and support.