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Aviva Premiership
Wray backs Welsh Premiership claims
ESPN Staff
April 7, 2013

Saracens owner Nigel Wray has given his backing to the four Welsh regions joining the Aviva Premiership.

The four regions - the Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Newport-Gwent Dragons and the Scarlets are currently at loggerheads with the Welsh Rugby Union over the funding of players. George North's likely transfer to Northampton has proven to be the catalyst that has re-opened the divide between regions and board. The loss-making regions have been operating under a strict salary cap, but as a result the likes of Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate and Gethin Jenkins have signed big-money deals with French clubs.

Premiership officials have already met with their Welsh counterparts to discuss the possibility of an Anglo-Welsh Premiership, though both sides admitted that any changes would take time and require the agreement of the International Rugby Board and the other RaboDirect PRO12 clubs.

In the amateur era the Anglo-Welsh matches were a huge draw for clubs on both sides of the River Severn and Wray feels that there should be a way of incorporating such fixtures to help the Welsh sides increase revenue and become more competitive.

"I don't think you should rule anything out, I certainly wouldn't dismiss it," Wray told The Rugby Paper. "The traditional Anglo-Welsh fixtures were great and they can be great again. The concept is definitely worth considering. Further discussions on the subject will make sense. Anything which can create a more attractive Premiership, increases its commercial value and bring about a greater European competition has to be welcomed."

In this year's LV=Anglo Welsh Cup none of the regions made it to the last four. It was a similar story in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cups, where none of the four sides progressed from the pool stages.

With the English and French clubs having served notice of their participation in the Heineken Cup at the end of the year, Wray believes a deal with the regions could strengthen the Anglo-French position when negotiations start again.

"Clearly there have to be changes," Wray added. "Whether we will meet somewhere in the middle, who knows? Everyone wants the European competition to continue, but not on the current terms.

"We want more of the cake because we generate most of the cake, not because we are magnificent rugby players but because we (England and France) have massive populations, which is what television demands. As I understand it everyone will gain financially."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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