Jones wants to see new Anglo-Welsh competition

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones says that he would like to see the Ospreys playing in a Anglo-Welsh competition next season rather than the Heineken Cup.

English and French clubs gave notice two years ago that they would not be playing in the Heineken Cup up ERC Rugby and have plans to form a new tournament.

Two weeks ago French clubs appeared to turn their back on the withdrawal by saying that they will play in the Heineken Cup next season but said it was on the proviso that English clubs also took part.

Since then English clubs have confirmed that they will not be playing in an ERC managed tournament and have been talking to other nations about participating in a breakaway tournament.

The Welsh regions are being forced to play Heineken Cup rugby next season by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) but they say they would rather play against English clubs.

Rugbyweek.com has also learnt that South African Rugby representatives have been in contact with the English Premiership rugby body PRL about opportunities next season.

South Africa are on the same time zone as France and have the playing depth to send teams to participate in a European tournament. Their participation would also solve the problem of having six Super Rugby teams and only five places in the tournament.

Representatives from Welsh regions the Ospreys, Blues, Scarlets and Dragons will have talks with the WRU on Wednesday.

“I’ve said for years a British league would be absolutely fantastic,” Jones told the BBC.

“I don’t understand the nuts and bolts of it and all the intricacies but if I had my way that would be it.”

The Welsh regions could take legal action for the right to play against English clubs in a tournament without permission from the WRU and there is increasing speculation that they might not sign the participation agreement with the union before the 31 December deadline.

The four Welsh regions have seen big numbers of their stars leaving Wales to play in France and now in England as they can’t afford to pay the international market rates to keep their players local.

Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton has given his club Cardiff Blues a deadline until Wednesday to put forward an offer that will keep him playing in Wales.

Financially it seems that many of the regions financial problems could be solved by playing against the English clubs who already have an agreed broadcast deal in place with BT Sport and Jones says that an Anglo-Welsh competition would help regions to retain players.

“We’ve got to create a domestic environment, from the national team down, where players don’t want to leave,” Jones added.

“We’ve got to be competitive financially and we’ve got to offer above and beyond to keep our best players.

“The stars of tomorrow need to be watching the stars of today.

“They need to be playing in teams with the likes of George (North), Leigh (Halfpenny) and Sam (Warburton).

“I’m tired of it and I know the other players here are tired of it and so are the Welsh public. The sooner this is resolved, the better.

“My worry is it’s going to leave a scar on the domestic game which is going to take a while to heal.”

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