A trend that has been worrying Welsh fans over the past few months is the number of uncapped regional players that are making a move to England.
Another name was added to that list recently, with Cardiff Blues and Wales under-18 lock Christ Tshiunza moving to Exeter Chiefs. He joins fellow Blues rising star Rhys Carre, who moves to Saracens next season.
The 21-year-old prop Carre has been hotly tipped as a player of the future in Wales, and has already been called up to Warren Gatland’s World Cup training squad. However, as he is yet to play for his country, he joins a growing number of Welsh-born players that are opting for more lucrative deals abroad while they are young.
Players are making this move as they can still play for their country. Although they have under 60 caps (which usually prohibits a Welsh international being selected if they play abroad), if they are uncapped when they signed their contract with their club, it does not matter. This has been seen with Josh Adams, who could represent Wales while with Worcester Warriors, as he was initially uncapped. However, now that his contract has expired, he has had to move to Cardiff to keep his international career alive.
Some Welsh fans are disappointed that this is happening in their system, and are rueing the number of promising players that are leaving the regions. Welsh domestic rugby is not particularly strong at the moment, with no team challenging in either the Pro14 or European competitions last season.
This exodus of young players from the regions will not help, and that is what is concerning may fans on Twitter:
Worrying that so many youngsters are choosing to move out of Wales . Not surprising but still worrying.
— L?Gri????????? (@leealtea) June 26, 2019
Unfortunately regions are so big and only picking limited numbers, it’s inevitable that numbers will continue to cross the bridge..
— Chris Higgins (@higgins190971) June 27, 2019
Real shame, these are the future of Welsh Rugby. The inability for the WRU to keep welsh players in Wales then handing out 60 cap rules is getting more & more absurd
— Tom Albrighton (@tmalbrghtn) June 27, 2019
However, while there are obvious downsides to these moves away, a number of Welsh fans are taking positives out of this exodus.
Not only will these players benefit from the coaching of other clubs, but it will not cost the Welsh Rugby Union anything. Saracens and Exeter were the two Premiership finalists last season, with Saracens winning the Champions Cup as well. Both clubs have developed many great players over the past few years, and the Welsh national team can benefit from this.
While the regions will be hampered in the meantime, the fans feel that the players will come back better, and it has been no financial incursion on the WRU.
This is what has been said:
If he’s committed to ??????? then good luck to him. Doesn’t bother me where players play so long as they play / develop their game which in turn strengthens the national side. Iceland football didn’t get to where they got to by keeping their players in Iceland
— Rich Tidy (@runtidyrun) June 27, 2019
My understanding is that he’s attending Exeter uni? Do we expect him to travel back and forth from Exeter several times a week?! Good on these boys broadening their horizons, hopefully he comes back a better player and more rounded individual
— Rich (@richiemerrett) June 27, 2019
4 years uni payed for by English club , good luck to him
— richard ward (@ospreys2008) June 27, 2019
Good, should have great development for a few years, all free for the WRU, then come back when ready for regional rugby.
— Rdj1878 (@Rdj1878) June 27, 2019
Don't blame the lads. Lots of them going due to the opportunities these moves present to them. He won't be the last
— Andrew Burton (@0787Burton) June 27, 2019
These moves away for uncapped players seem like an inevitability in rugby, and something the WRU cannot stop. But an encouraging step is that the fans are seeing this now as a positive rather than a negative.
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