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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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Ex-England player doesn't want 'bang average' Welsh in Premiership

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Former England international Andy Goode has explained why he doesn’t want Welsh clubs joining the Gallagher Premiership now or at any time in the future. The recent RFU suspension of Worcester ignited speculation that two URC Welsh-based teams could jump leagues and move across to the English top-flight. However, that prospect has turned the stomach of Goode, the retired out-half who played for five Premiership clubs during his lengthy career which also included stints in France and South Africa.

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Tournament officials have reacted by cancelling the Worcester matches versus Gloucester and Harlequins amid grave doubts that the club can be resurrected in time for its next scheduled game, the October 22 Premiership visit to Bristol.

Four Worcester players – including England duo Ted Hill and Ollie Lawrencejoined Bath on loan on Monday to keep their careers ticking amid the limbo at the Warriors, whose last match was the September 24 home win over Newcastle.

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For years there has always been hearsay that Welsh clubs would jump at the opportunity of joining up with the Premiership, chit-chat that has now been reignited by the Premiership currently having only twelve clubs that can field a team.

Goode, though, doesn’t even want to see the Welsh invited across the Bristol Channel into the Premiership. He insisted that while the carry-on at Worcester has been awful, the English league was delivering quality on a weekly basis and there was also no guarantee the inclusion of teams from Wales would add to that entertainment value given how inconsistent they are in the URC against teams from Ireland, South Africa, Scotland and Italy.

Chatting on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, the show he co-hosts with former Leicester teammate Jim Hamilton, Goode said: “I don’t want to continue on a negative but you asked a question about the Welsh clubs, there are rumours of two of them joining the Prem. No thank you is what I am saying. No thank you. I know the Ospreys absolutely destroyed a Scottish team at the weekend in Glasgow but the Premiership to me is so sacred in terms of what we are seeing at the minute. The Premiership is a quality league and I personally always said that 13 teams were too many.

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“I got why they got rid of relegation because of the covid pandemic but we are sat here now and what you cannot do is just add in two Welsh teams and go, ‘There you go, you have a crack’. It just doesn’t work for me in terms of the Premiership and the quality product that you see week in and week out.

“Look at the games at the weekend and we spoke about last weekend, you chuck a couple of Welsh teams in and it just divides opinion hugely and dissipates the quality a little bit. Let’s be honest, we have seen how bang average at best some of the Welsh teams have been.”

Co-host Hamilton agreed. “You don’t need it. This isn’t about being horrible and about taking the p***. The Prem has got a lot of things going on. Andy knows a lot in terms of the back end of the business and stuff like that but why, why do the Welsh teams need to come into the Gallagher Premiership when what we are seeing on the pitch is unbelievable, and actually it could make things worse because they are not in a financially stable place either?”

Goode chipped back in: “Scarlets have played three, lost three in the URC. The Dragons, we have talked about them at length even though results are improving for them. Cardiff, don’t bring them over because they have been egging pubs left, right and centre apparently. Who even eggs anymore?

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“And then the Ospreys, it’s just I don’t know… Whoever has come up with that idea, and we had a debate with BT Sport on Friday when I was up at Newcastle. Some people were, ‘Yeah, I think it would be great’. I’m like, ‘No!’”

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