A debt worth incurring?

Leighton Samuel, Tony Brown, Peter Pie Thomas, Roger Blyth, Mike Cuddy, Huw Woss-Name at Llanelli, that fella who used to manage Oasis but also owned Ebbw Vale (talk about rock ‘n roll); the old Welsh rugby benefactors have shrunk in number and there doesn’t seem to be a new breed ready to replace them.
Do we owe them a debt of gratitude?  Frankly, I wouldn’t want to owe them anything.  I mean, imagine getting behind on your payments with one of them.  Sheeesh…  It’s not that they aren’t pillars of their local communities or anything.  Every one of them gives loads to charity (probably) but then so did fellow rugby benefactor Bryn Cartwright off of ‘Twin Town’ and he was the sort of bloke who had people beaten to death in pub car parks etc., despite being a chiefly fictional character.

Fair play mind, they sunk their pennies in without hope of payback when the professional game was still finding its feet. 

Chucking a load of money at a rugby team must have seemed good for nothing except some local notoriety and a quick bit of money laundering, but in the very long-run it might prove a worthwhile investment.

These leathery old soaks must know that the WRU will buy all the player contracts out at some point in the future, and run the elite game in Wales centrally.  The only question is: does the WRU know it yet?

A lot was made during the close season about the Ospreys signing half-a-dozen of Wales’ scrum half contingents – something that would never be allowed to happen with central contracting and/or an NFL-style ‘draft’ system.   This incidentally, while the Scarlets make do with a very green Martin Roberts, up-and-coming Travis Bickle, and the ghost of Chico Hopkins; the Blues have a nervous looking Gareth Cooper alongside street urchin Richie Rees; and the Dragons have got….er…

Elsewhere at the Ospreys is the unusual case of double grand slam winning, once prospective future Wales captain, uber-athlete and utility forward Jonathan Thomas.  Most latterly playing second row for his region, Thomas has 3 better and more experienced Wales internationals ahead of him in the pecking order, with a further 2 highly experienced squad players snapping at his heels.  If the back row was considered a better option for his international prospects, he’d have a trio of All-Blacks, the current Wales captain, a few other quality squad players (and Steve Tandy too) to content with.

Meanwhile, the Blues are sweating over when Maama blinkin’ Molitika will be fit enough to pull his own boots back on… 

Some dry wit once compared the prospect of watching Scottish football to a couple of bald guys fighting over a comb.   It’s getting that way with Welsh regional rugby, and the WRU have got to press on from recent victories over the balance sheet by plunging themselves back into debt with a central contracting spending binge.  What the hell else are they going to spend it on? 
- Top international coaching team?  Check…
- Big, purpose built stadium?  Check…
- Training facilities and what-not?  Check…

Sure, they could spend more on age-grade rugby, bring back the Wales-A team, and invest more in North Wales and the women’s game.  But then, with respect, they could also drop ticket prices down to 20p a game and pay to steamroller everything within 200 yards of the Mil Stad in order to correct the skew in the tiered seating and install a decent car park.

Rumoured to be many hundreds of millions of Euros in debt, Real Madrid remain solvent because no-one doubts the shirts will keep being bought, and the tickets will keep being sold.  Aren’t we a slightly less sunny version of same thing?   

We’re Wales.  If it looks half tidy, buy it on finance and worry about affording it later.  Wishful thinking perhaps, but the benefactor boys might just be too old now to drive too hard a bargain…