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WRU reveal five-year plan to revive Welsh rugby

By PA
Wales/ PA

Wales are targeting semi-final places as a minimum at the next men’s World Cup in 2027 and the 2029 Women’s World Cup as part of a new five-year plan.

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The Welsh Rugby Union wants the men’s and women’s national teams to be “consistently” in the top five of the world rankings and to compete for honours annually in the Six Nations.

Wales are currently 10th and eighth in the World Rugby men’s and women’s rankings respectively, while both teams finished bottom of their respective Six Nations tables earlier this year.

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Rassie Erasmus announces his captain for the Ireland series

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Rassie Erasmus announces his captain for the Ireland series

A strategy document published on Wednesday titled ‘One Wales, where rugby matters more’ also targets improvements in the professional club game, growing the number of children participating in grassroots rugby, achieving financial sustainability across the Welsh game and an improvement in positive public sentiment towards Welsh rugby.

The national-team targets will be underpinned by the creation of “inspiring” senior programmes and a “coherent” talent identification and development system, the strategy document said.

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There will be a reduced focus on seeking to bring “marquee” male players back to Wales, but on the women’s side the WRU is seeking to coax back stars from England’s Premiership to be involved in “a compelling competition offering for elite Welsh players”.

WRU chief executive Abi Tierney wrote in an open letter published on Wednesday that the plan sought “to change the fortunes of both our senior men’s and women’s sides who have underachieved in terms of the results posted last year, and our four regional clubs who all aim to improve results in their respective competitions”.

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“The bottom line is that the ultimate measure of progress is winning on the field,” she wrote.

The WRU said it will make “equitable” investment into the men and boys’ and women and girls’ community game. The independent Rafferty review published last year called for further investment in the women and girls’ game, saying it was “not properly supported or developed”.

The new strategy document also seeks to put the Welsh game on a stronger financial footing, which the WRU says it intends to do by restructuring debt and by considering “other funding methods to allow investment into rugby”.

The WRU wants to become the “employer of choice” in Wales as it rebuilds its governance structures on the back of the damning Rafferty review, which found the WRU was an “unforgiving, even vindictive” place to work for some of its employees.

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Tierney added: “We are the smallest Tier One rugby nation, but we believe we can deliver this strategy because of the passion of our supporters, because rugby matters more in Wales.

“The strength of the game in Wales will be in our unity and this significant road map embodies the voices of everyone associated with the game.

“We have created something that we can all be really proud of, something which will see us rise sustainably to new heights by 2029.”

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2 Comments
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Henrik 22 days ago

has WRU hired McKinsey or the likes to come with these statements? ….. having worked in large international companies with a knack for high-roller spending on consultants, that bullshit-bingo with no substance sounds very familiar

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finn 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma
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