Sam Warburton proposes drastic plan to rescue Welsh and English rugby ‘before things get worse’

Former British & Irish Lions and Wales captain Sam Warburton has outlined his idea for a new league which involves the Celtic and English teams.

The 35-year-old is worried about the future of Welsh rugby and believes his plan would safeguard the sport in the country.

English rugby is also on a knife edge following the loss of three teams – Worcester Warriors, Wasps and London Irish.

Anglo-Welsh league

The four regions and the ten Premiership teams still in existence have been proposed to form an Anglo-Welsh league; however, Warburton would go one step further.

He is in favor of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland coming together to form a new, two-tier tournament.

“I would split the teams into two categories of ten each. In his Times column, he stated, “That would be ten sides from the Gallagher Premiership, with four Welsh, four Irish, and two Scots.”

The top five Celtic sides in the URC and the top five Premiership clubs from the previous season would therefore form the top conference when this new league began, with the remaining teams playing in the second division.

“You would have home and away fixtures, which would be 18 games each. That is in line with what is played now.

“I don’t think the teams in Wales, Ireland and Scotland below the top level are good enough to challenge for places in this league, but I do think that the English Championship needs to be considered and so the bottom English club in this new league each season would play the top one in the Championship for a spot.

“I don’t think it would devalue Europe; instead, I think there would be a huge thirst for this new league. Would that be superior to our current situation? I believe that.

Of course, that would leave the remaining teams in the United Rugby Championship in a difficult situation, but Warburton also has a suggestion for South Africa and Italy.

He added, “Some will wonder what will happen to the Italian and South African teams in the URC, but it makes perfect sense for the Italian clubs to enter the French system, and I find it amazing that South Africa cannot have a major domestic league with all of their players.”

Lack of supporter interest

Although Warburton is not dismissive of the URC as a product, the former Lions skipper does not believe that it has engaged the Welsh public effectively enough.

“The URC has done a good job in the circumstances, making itself commercially viable, but it is not ideal,” he added.

“I think the problem with the Welsh regions is not that supporters haven’t bought into the regions, it is that they haven’t bought into the competition in which the regions play.

“You require large stakes games, which the URC just does not offer. No buy-in is present. As a board member and former player for Cardiff, I’m ashamed that my feelings about the team’s URC performance are lacking. Europe? Admittedly, not the URC.

Before matters worsen further, it is imperative that we take proactive measures and make some important decisions.

“The reason the WRU is not investing too much in the regions right now is because I fear it is just waiting for one of the four regions to go into administration so it can fund three regions properly.”

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