It’s pretty evident that the Guinness PRO12 needs shaking up.
International windows have been detrimental to the competition over the years and organisers have finally had enough. The PRO12 has always played second fiddle to the international game and it’s time things were changed up so both can prosper.
In an interview with Wales Online, PRO12 managing director Martin Anayi revealed that crowds and TV audience plummet by 45% during Test windows. He said:
“We have more international players than any other competition, but we play games in the international window.
“That is self-defeating. What should be our big strength is our biggest weakness… With the star players missing, it creates the perception that it’s a development competition. We recognise that perception and we need to address it.
“We need to give people more reason to watch our teams more often and that means the international players. It’s not a maybe, it’s a must.”
Further changes could see the league split into conferences and invites for the likes of London Scottish and London Welsh. A Georgian super-team may be included and, rather than kill them off, more investment in the struggling Italian sides.
It may also mean playing less games and structuring the season around the Test windows. “The critical thing for me,” Anayi added, “is give a team the best possible chance of playing the best possible rugby.”