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.