Rugby Union: Plan to create single league

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The Independent Online
OFFICIAL moves are under way to create an Anglo-Welsh league and end the separation of English and Welsh club rugby which has been the worst legacy of the introduction of leagues in the two countries, writes Steve Bale.

The pressure is now on the Welsh Rugby Union to respond to approaches from two fronts. First, John Jeavons-Fellows, the Rugby Football Union's competitions chairman, raised the issue with Vernon Pugh, the WRU chairman, at the recent International Rugby Board meeting in London.

And Llanelli Rugby Club, whose outstanding team won both the Heineken League and the Swalec Cup in Wales last season, has written to the WRU asking that it approach the RFU and take the necessary steps to get the new league in place.

The massive wins they enjoyed over most of their opponents last season have persuaded the Scarlets that the standard is inadequate, not merely for themselves but for the good of the Wales team. 'Llanelli feel that at the moment the First Division is too polarised,' John Maclean, the club chairman, said.

There will be many vexatious issues, such as sponsorship, international and other representative requirements, and numbers, to be addressed but the momentum behind the idea is growing. 'I'm very positive that it can become reality,' Jeavons-Fellows said. He is also keen for Welsh teams to become involved in the Divisional Championship.

'I feel it would be in the interests of both countries to set up an Anglo-Welsh league,' Jeavons-Fellows said. 'The two countries should work together like Australia and New Zealand to do something about the southern-hemisphere dominance.'

The Welsh evidently feel much the same. 'We are looking at the whole league set-up in Wales, at transfers and sizes of squads,' Pugh said. 'It is likely that we will consider the requests which have been made to us regarding an Anglo-Welsh league and whether we can accommodate it in the next season or two.'

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