The Six Nations championship is almost upon us yet again. On 1st February Wales kick off against Italy, hoping to repeat the success of last year and lift the spirits of the nation.
Every rugby fan in the country will be hoping that by then the current impasse that is making Welsh rugby a laughing stock will have been overcome and a solution reached to the current regions versus governing body scrap.
The two sides meet again this week, but judging by all that has been written in the press and the debate held on BBC Scrum V today then a solution seems unlikely.
Instead of the usual buzz of excitement over whether we can win the Championship the talk in clubs and pubs up and down the country is whether we will have any sort of structure left at all in the coming months. Players' morale must be at rock bottom as some do not even know where their playing future lies.
The egos of the WRU and the regions have all but brought our national game to its knees, and the problems have been bubbling away under the surface for some considerable time. Ever since David Moffett introduced the regional rugby set up and then walked away in fact. The same David Moffett who now wants to elbow his way back in as the self-appointed saviour of the game.
The WRU, under the leadership of Roger Lewis, has failed completely to engage with the regional sides. They in turn have, in the opinion of many, none moreso than in the valleys, failed to embrace the true concept of regional rugby.
Lifelong Ponty fan Councillor Mike Powell says
"Anyone who has stood at Sardis listening to the strains of "I will never be a Blue" cannot fail to grasp the strength of feeling amongst grass roots supporters. Regional rugby has failed to do what it says on the tin, and has instead been seen as a way of the WRU propping up its favoured top teams at the expense of others.
"The regions have indeed developed some world class Welsh players, but those players are then being snapped up by clubs in other countries. It is affecting the performance of the regional sides who at that level are struggling to compete with other countries. Fans are turning away - they want to see top class players playing top grade rugby and by and large it is not happening. This in turn leads to a loss of revenue and as a result the loss of more top class players in a never ending vicious circle.
"Regions rely heavily on private backers to keep them afloat, and they are obviously going to be looking for if not a healthy return then at least value for their money. The question is whether they can then be allowed to hold the sport's governing body to ransom in the way they seem keen to do. On the other hand is that governing body, the WRU, fit for purpose?"
Whilst all this argument goes on at the alleged top of the tree of rugby in Wales clubs such as Pontypridd are left in a state of limbo. Last season they proved themselves to be a class above everyone else in the Premiership topping the league a massive 23 points ahead of their nearest rivals. Yet where do they go from here? Where is the progression for a side that still plays with all the passion and pride that Welsh rugby has always been known for and has a fan base second to none? The problems in Welsh rugby go far deeper than the current spat.