Historical figure in Welsh club rugby gives damning report on the state of the game in Wales.


In an interview with BBC Scum V Dale McIntosh label’s regional academies a “joke” in a stern warning to the WRU.

Since arriving in the South Wales Valleys from New Zealand, McIntosh has embraced Welsh club rugby and has earned himself a seat at the top table of icons to be involved with club rugby.

Having arrived in 1989, the ‘Chief’ got stuck into Welsh rugby with Pontypridd, and after two decades of playing he decided to call it a day after 454 games at Sardis Road, and two caps for Wales in 1996/97.

He then took on the head coaching role at the club, before moving on to coach Cardiff Rugby, Merthyr RFC, and now has his sights set on the top job at Brecon RFC for next season, so he knows the ins and outs of the grassroots game in Wales.

With Wales men’s sides at under 20 and senior level struggling to compete, and with many people in Wales believing to have the right answer to the problems, BBC took to ‘Chief’ to label the problems.

“The Academies are a joke” he labelled. Having coached in the Premiership since 2007 he has seen a fair share of talent graduate from the league and go on to represent the regions in the professional leagues and further, but in recent years there seems to be a lack of direction with how these young players can reach their maximum capabilities.

Now, you can’t expect every player as young as 18 to be able to cope with the physicality or have the skillset good enough to compete at the top level straight away. This is where the Premiership is used as a stepping stone for young players to develop their game.

“The academies should be evenly shared out between each Premiership club, and that’s not the case,

“What is the premiership for? Is it a community game? Or is it a pathway for the young kids in the academies to develop their rugby?.”

In recent years the meaning behind the Premiership has been tossed about, is it the pinnacle of amateur Welsh Club Rugby? Or has it just turned into a stepping stone for the next crop of elite?

It seems to fit in that grey area in the middle, but there needs to be a balance that allows each team a fair share of these academy players to compete evenly with each other.

The 2021/22 Indigo Group Premiership Winners Cardiff RFC have come under some scrutiny from fans of the league, having seamlessly brought the league’s integrity into dispute having a squad with numerous contracted professionals involved, being labelled as ‘Cardiff B’.

With fellow Premiership sides based in the region, such as Pontypridd RFC and Merthyr RFC not receiving quarter the amount that Cardiff RFC have had, how is that fair on the clubs, and the players who are not being released by the academies to these two clubs?

“If that’s the case then it needs to be run along the professional game, not the community game.”

An alternative solution would be to run an academies league alongside the professional competitions, a ‘United Rugby Championship U’23’ so to speak. It would bring the standard of the Premiership down, but in terms of developing the next crop of Welsh talent it seems a fairer way of policing the situation.

“We’ve all got a duty to the game, no matter what level you are coaching or playing, it’s about promoting a product for people to stay involved and send the right message out, then we can have more people playing and enjoying rugby.

Hopefully that way we can then keep Welsh Rugby sustainable at the top end.”

Like many others in Wales, ‘Chief’ just wants the best for the Game to strive in Wales in the future, hopefully the WRU can take some of his advice and come to a decision that will benefit all involved.

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