Llandovery will be applying for inclusion in the new Elite Domestic Competition which starts in September 2024 writes Huw S Thomas
At a specially convened and well-attended meeting at the Church Bank clubhouse on Friday night the club, with the blessing of the WRU, shared the principles and aims of the EDC with its members as part of an extended consultation exercise.
Areas of mild concern were raised by members regarding the requirement to work closely with the region leading to potential reduction of control within the club and also the impact of the draft season structure on regular rugby throughout the season.
But that said, the club members expressed a unanimous wish for the board to go ahead with the application.
The conditions of entry and the structure of the new competition were outlined and clarified by club chairman Peter Rees who has been the driving force behind the club’s application.
“The membership has backed our wish to be part of this exciting new structure and we see it as the way forward for the club to build on its success over the last few years under our coach Euros Evans and his team” said Rees.
“We are proud of the players that have come through our system and gone on the higher things like Emyr Phillips and Wyn Jones and this new league will give us the opportunity to contribute even more to the success of Welsh rugby.”
“We believe that we are ready and prepared to meet all criteria and will be busy putting our case forward as as soon as possible, with the WRU intending to announce the EDC make up of the leagues before Christmas.”
The EDC will sit above the Welsh Premiership but below the regional game and consist of between eight to 10 clubs currently playing in the Premiership with the aim of bridging the gap between the semi pro game and the United Rugby Championship (URC).
There will be two competitions in the season, one league and one cup with the possibility that the cup might involve cross border competition with English, Irish or Scottish sides.
There will be two EDC clubs assigned to each professional side, meaning that in the Scarlets region Llandovery and Carmarthen Quins have an outstanding chance of inclusion as long as the meet the criteria by implementing a documented good governance performance strategy.
This will be centred on the development of the team, its supporting infrastructure and the establishment of direct pathway links to and from the professional game.
Each successful club will receive £105, 000 per annum for three ring-fenced years but have to provide their own guarantee of funding a minimum of £315.000 for the full three year term of the EDC licence.
There will be a general £150,000 per year salary cap on each playing squad and £60,000 for coaching and backroom staff.
The Llanelli club will not be able to apply as membership is restricted to clubs currently playing in the WRU league structure, leaving the way clear for the Drovers and Quins.
RGC will be automatically be part of the EDC, – provided they meet the criteria – with the Union considering it vital to have North Wales participation.
The three other regions will have two teams each with the possibility of one region having an extra club if criteria are reached.
The Dragons region might choose two from Newport, Pontypool and Ebbw Vale, the Blues two from Cardiff, Merthyr and Pontypridd whilst the Ospreys region has four possible candidate for places – Aberavon, Swansea, Bridgend and Neath.
Of the 13 current Premiership clubs, three or four will be disappointed when the licensing panel including WRU Interim Performance director Huw Bevan and WRU Head of Player development John Alder prioritise the top nine or 10 clubs.
The unsuccessful clubs will drop down to a revamped and non professional community game Premiership, with Brecon, Newcastle Emlyn, Narberth and Crymych to be included in it, if they finish in the top four of the current Championship West table.
Stand by for the WRU decision come the end of December.