Shane Williams Calls For Radical Overhaul Of The PRO12
Shane Williams believes a radical overhaul of the PRO12 could be required if Celtic sides are to challenge in Europe once again.
The European Champions and Challenge Cup semifinals get underway this weekend with the PRO12 fielding just one side in the last four of either competition- the Newport Gwent Dragons take on Montpellier on Saturday in the secondary Challenge Cup.
“If you look at the teams and the calibre of the players in the PRO12, they should be competing,” the former Ospreys wing told ESPN.
“Some of the teams are very heavy in international players and you’d expect them to do better.
“Perhaps the PRO12 has not moved on in terms of the standard of teams over the last few years, while the Aviva Premiership and French league have gone up a step again. The Premiership looks stronger now than it’s ever been. To have three teams in the Champions Cup semifinals just goes to prove that.
“People want to see the stars play and that generates support, numbers and revenue. The only way they’re going to be able to do that is to restructure [the PRO12] and perhaps not play [it] during the likes of the Six Nations and autumn internationals.
“That would mean you do have your full strength teams and hopefully that would generate a more competitive league, and really prepare these regional teams when they do play in Europe.”
The qualification structure for the reformed Champions Cup, which came into force in 2014, no longer guarantees PRO12 clubs spots at Europe’s top table. With Welsh regions struggling in domestic competition, big names are likely to be absent from next year’s competition.
“It’s disappointing that next year, the likes of the Blues, Ospreys, and Dragons likely won’t be in the Champions Cup,” Williams said. “It definitely needs a bit of change. Whether or not that’s taking a few teams out of the league and making it smaller and more competitive, I’m not sure.” [ESPN]