18/11/2012 The Wales Report


Is Welsh rugby in crisis? While the Welsh Rugby Union declare record profits the four Welsh regions are reporting mounting losses. We speak to the man in charge.

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On The Wales Report tonight: The state of Welsh rugby and the future


of the regions - we'll be talking to the man in charge of the WRU.


Scotland's heading for a referendum on independence - what does that


mean for Plaid Cymru and its new leader, Leanne Wood?


And we have four new police commissioners, but most of you


didn't bother to vote. We'll be asking what kind of mandate they


Good evening. We're back in Cardiff after Washington and London in


recent weeks, and tonight we explore a subject that many of you


feel very strongly about, judging by the number of comments and


questions you've sent us - and Friday's insipid performance by the


national side at the Millennium Stadium hasn't improved the mood.


But hang on - we've enjoyed three Grand Slams in eight years, we


reached the World Cup semi-finals just over a year ago and the Welsh


Rugby Union has posted a record turnover of �63 million.


That's all very impressive but then you look a little deeper into the


games in Wales. Top-level players are leaving, enticed by better


deals, the regional structure is judged to be financially


unsustainable and there's been a clear fall in support. And in the


words of one former Welsh rugby giant, Bob Norster, there needs to


be a better balance between the national and regional game. Nothing


short of a complete restructuring is needed.


In a moment I'll be putting these points to Roger Lewis, chief


executive of the Welsh Rugby Union. But first some views from the


Eight is all going horribly wrong for Wales!


The regions are desperate for more money to be competitive in Europe,


but the benefactors are withdrawing, Tony Brown at the dragons, Mike


Cuddy at the Ospreys. It would appear that the regions do not


touch our soul. But you don't have to be a


structural engineer to know that if you look at the top and weaken the


bottom, even the mightiest of Wales needs strong regions, and if


they are successful then we will be successful. With all this bickering,


Welsh rugby is going to lose out. There is a danger that increasingly


Welsh players will be playing outside Wales. I don't blame the


players foregoing where they will get top dollar, and top dollar


right now is in France. The danger is that more will follow, with


people like Jamie Roberts and somewhere down the road, Leigh


Halfpenny. How to prevent them from going and keep them in Wales?


money that could be made in France for some of the guys at the moment


is twice or three times as much as what they would earn in Wales, it


is merely a financial choice in the end. If you are getting this money


offered to you in France, it is difficult to turn down.


If you have the chequebook, you dictate. At the moment, there are


two different bodies, if you like, trying to work with the same


players. If it was under more -- one umbrella, I would think it


would be more effective. It is a little bit of common sense,


and the regions and the WRU to thrash out something sensible for


Wales. Bad news, the All Blacks are coming


to town next Saturday! We asked a fundamental crossroads


in the history of Welsh rugby, let's make no bones about that. --


we are at a fundamental crossroads. We need a solution lasting for many,


many years. I would like to see a fundamental difference from the


start of next season, so we can't drive our feet, we have to act. Now


is the time for action, the time for talking is over. Let's go on


and do it. Roger Lewis joins me, good to have


the withers. There is time for more talking, despite what you said,


there is much to talk about. I wonder whether you accept that


Welsh rugby as a whole is in crisis? The good news is that


talking is virtually over, I'm pretty confident that this side of


Christmas we will sign a new accord with our four regions. Now is the


time not to look into the mirror, which we are fond of doing in Wales,


and over our shoulder, now we need to look forward and look through


the windows and come together with confidence. As someone once said,


if we are inseparable, we will be insuperable. The people we are


talking to and have spoken to over many months, very discreetly, are


coming together with a new sense of purpose. I am confident it will be


sorted this side of Christmas. is it about the new deal that will


change the picture and give people more hope? The Welsh Academy's's


the Welsh Academy's and Sega PAD of Wells says that Welsh rugby is a


barometer of the national condition. The economic condition in Wales is


very challenging. We have to have a more joined-up and central attitude


towards how we manage Welsh rugby, for the benefit of all of Welsh


rugby. We're close to finishing up now, we're in the final throes of


this, we are close to putting together a new agreement that would


see a far greater structural agreement between the regions and


Welsh Rugby Union. How would that constitute practical changes? Give


me an example of how people would say, oh, I can see what they have


done and why this makes sense. Rugby, we need to be more joined-up


in approaching the rugby issues. We need to work far closer with our


players. Which players play for which regions and when, how do we


manage that with the national team? Financially, we need the right


systems and structures in place with the right people and skills to


make sure we maximise the opportunity in what is a very


challenging economic set of circumstances. The regions will no


longer be starved of funds, as they say they have been over the past


few years? I don't agree they have been. We only signed a


participation agreement three years ago which gave the region's


fantastic financial horizons. But has not been the case. We have been


working on a rolling five-year financial plan within the WRU which


has delivered consistently. I am confident it will continue to


deliver. We can work with the regions to ensure they have the


same thinking. It is delivering lots of things including, some


would argue, top players leaving. You can't blame them for doing this,


they are looking up their own resources and financial conditions


and thinking, well, why would I stay as I am getting a far better


deal elsewhere, a deal not possible because of the structure in place.


When you change that? We need to put it into context.


Will it change? Welsh rugby is a barometer. In the 1920s and 1930s...


We don't have time to go back there! 64 Welsh internationals left


Wales in the 20s and 30s to go north, seek employment and play


rugby. In the 80s and 90s, 19 players left Wales. It is not a new


phenomenon, these things happen in economically challenging times. But


we can work together with the regions to create an environment


that is so attractive that people will think twice. Will we stop the


flood? I think we can if we get it right, but will we stop everyone


leaving Wales? No, that has never been the case. We have to create a


sense that this is something so important for a Welsh player to


play their rugby here that we have to make it so attractive that they


will not consider that. How? really get the sense of immense


pride within Welsh rugby... shouldn't have to tell people to


have pride to play for their team! You are so right, but I think it


has been eroded by so many conditions, so many things that


have gone on and Wales. It has been tough, and some players find it


better to be out of the goldfish bowl when trying to swim here.


Should players who decide to go abroad be allowed to play for the


national side? That is an argument that has been deployed. That is a


card that can be played, but you have to play it at the right time.


Now is not the time, we haven't got the joined-up contractual


relationship with the regions. If we have that, if we have a sense


that it is Team Wales, we can then say, if you do not play your rugby


in Wales, you do not get picked for Wales, that is something New


Zealand has done and Ireland have also emphasise that point. If we


get the joined-up thinking between ourselves and the regions, we can


think that way. And if you don't get the region's right, very soon


you will see a very bad impact on the national picture? We have to


get it right. I think it will impact the national team. Put it in


context, let's not forget we came back from a World Cup last year


with our reputation and performance greatly enhanced, we won a Grand


Slam, so it is not bad, but it is very serious. When we are good, we


are awesome. When we are bad, we all full, and the last two weekends


have been seriously awful. -- when we are bad, we are awful. We have


to get its structure the right, I am confident we can do that and a


thick white smoke will appear from the Millennium Stadium before


Christmas. -- and I think white smoke will appear. I was hoping we


would get it right before the season started, as the film showed,


but I will not come up with a sticking-plaster solution. If Welsh


rugby is littered with short-term solutions, I've always said it is


long-term sustainability and thinking to get our systems,


structure and staffing and skills, to get a real strategic attitude


backed up by huge ambition. That is what I need him place, that is what


we are close to. I feel if we can continue, as we have done


discreetly over the past few months, if we all make an announcement over


the next couple of weeks which will give the Welsh fans great


confidence. Let's hope so, we will talk to you


in the New Year, good to talk to you, thank you. We will keep our


fingers crossed for the matches coming up. We have to front up.


WRU is not the only Welsh body actively considering its strategy


for the future - Plaid Cymru is also in the same boat. The party's


result in last year's Assembly elections looks less than


convincing when you compare it with the success of its sister party,


the SNP, under Alex Salmond. He'll be leading the party's campaign in


the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. Meanwhile


Plaid's new leader, Leanne Wood, has decided to abandon her status


as a regionally-elected AM and to stand in a constituency instead.


She says that could lead to a new breakthrough. We'll be talking to


Leanne Wood in a moment, but first here's David Williams on the


After centuries living in the shadow of a dominant neighbour, the


long burn off nationalism in Wales and Scotland suddenly ignited in


the 1960s, with the election to Westminster of two people whose


names would become synonymous with their parties. 16,179. Quinn of our


Evans, who won the first Plaid Cymru seat in 1966, and the


following year, Winnie Ewing, winning her seat for the Scottish


National Party. Three decades later and a long journey to devolution


reached an important milestone, with both parties enjoying success


in the first Assembly election in Wales and the parliamentary


election in Scotland. Plaid were very successful at establishing


themselves as a moderate Welsh party. They also had the most


popular leader in Wales at the time. Plaid's spectacular success in 1999


threatened for the first time to end Labour's dominance of Welsh


politics. But the early promise was short-lived, and since then, Plaid


has suffered a number of defeats and has languished in the polls.


The subsequent years under a di Ieuan Wyn Jones, Plaid Cymru has


been led by a man who has many admirable qualities and is an


admirable politician, but all the survey evidence suggests he was


utterly lacking in voter appeal. Plaid and the SNP were now set on


very different paths. What Alex Salmond did above all,


and I don't think Plaid have done this to the same extent, is broaden


the SNP church quite considerably over the past 10 and even 20 years.


Going back to when he first became leader, he tried to soften the


edges of the SNP's harder, more left-wing ideological positions.


Although both parties entered government in 2007, the SNP as a


minority government and plaid as junior coalition partners to Labour,


only the SNP seemed to have a clear Plaid Cymru fluctuate much more


between wanting more powers, more independence, more federalism. The


electorate will be confused about what the final destination is.


Passing under a statue of Lloyd George in Caernarfon, one of the


20th century's most charismatic and successful leaders, a former


President of Plaid Cymru reflects on the current state of his own


party. It has a new leader in Leanne Wood but some wonder how


long she will be there, having announced that at the next election


due plans to vacate a relatively safe regional seat and try and win


a constituency seat instead. -- she plans. She does not see it as a


danger or a challenge. She leads by example. If she means what she says,


and she does, that we have to concentrate on winning


constituencies, then she is now putting herself in the front line.


But what as a consequence if she loses the seat? You lose the leader.


I think there are many years to go. By then, if we are successful, I


think we will have re-engaged with the people of Wales in a different


way. The question of leadership is not the only problem for Plaid


Cymru. There is another, and it is rooted in places like this,


Caernarfon. The epicentre of Plaid Cymru's political heartland. Set


against the backdrop of a castle designed to keep the troublesome


Welsh under control, it is not surprising perhaps that Plaid Cymru


enjoys strong support in places like this. But much of that support


comes from people who speak the Welsh language. And the language


can be both a strength and the weakness for Plaid Cymru. I think


there is a disconnects sometimes because of the language barrier.


The success of Plaid Cymru and Welsh-speaking areas is more


consistent than it is in the more anglicised areas. But I think


gradually as time goes on the people of Wales are becoming easier


with the language and more supportive of it. We have to


convince them again that we have the idea is to lead Wales. Plaid


Cymru remains in battle, struggling with its various difficulties. In


the meantime, its nationalist colleagues in Scotland are


preparing for an altogether bigger fight, the historic fight, a fight


to persuade the people of Scotland in a referendum to vote for


independence. Plaid Cymru can only dream of such things. They are left


hoping that their new leader will deliver on her promise and lead the


party to new victories in a new Wales.


And Plaid Cymru's new leader, Leanne Wood, is with me. Thank you


for coming in. How would you describe the challenge facing you?


Well, I am very much looking forward to fighting a constituency


seat. I think that the days of safety-first politics have to be


over now. We face a number of challenges as a country. There are


a number of good reasons why we need to do our politics differently.


And the same needs to go for Plaid Cymru. We need to be bold, I think,


now and ambitious for our party, as well as for our nation. That is why


I am going to contest a constituency seat. With all the


challenges facing you, you are adding to your problems, some would


say, by taking on this huge gamble. Why are you doing that? Is it a


sign of desperation? We can either carry on as we are with the limited


Dumbo of seats that we have, relying heavily on the lists, --


limited number. What is wrong with the list? Nothing, there are just


not enough listed seats if we are going to become the biggest party


in the National Assembly. We will have to break through into


constituency seats and take new constituency seats. I am offering


leadership to the party and to the nation to show that we can do this.


If we put our minds to it and we are determined to see success then


we have to believe that we can get there and we have to take the same


attitude to the nation about an economic problems as well in


particular. When did you take the decision to go from the list and


look for a constituency? I announce the decision this week and it is


something I have been discussing with colleagues for a number of


weeks. I am yet to make a decision as to which the seat to stand in.


Why? Further discussions will take place and I am sure you will fully


understand that. I do but I have to say to you that as a leader who


will plan strategically, how do I put this? I find it difficult to


believe that you have no idea why you want to stand. I'm not ready to


make an announcement on that. has to be the home patch? I will


discuss options with party members. Do you have an idea of where you


would like to stand but you will not tell us? I have a number of


ideas in mind. And your home patch would be one of them? Potentially


but I will not make any further decision or announcement until I


have discussed the options. used the phrase, safety-first


politics have to come to an end and you have to make a bold gesture. I


take it that in the last 10 years, at least since 1999, the high point


of the percentage of the vote, that has been a wasted decade? I would


not describe it as a wasted decade. Plaid Cymru over the last few years


has focused very much on constitutional change. When our


devolution settlement was set up, as is done here was much weaker


than they had in Scotland. -- our system. There has been worked over


the past 10 years to bring our settlement up to the same level of


Scotland even though we are nowhere near that as yet. At least we now


have a law-making Parliament supported by two thirds of the


people who voted in 2011. That is good. There are a number of things


that we achieved while in Government that I think Plaid Cymru


can be very proud of. Do you think there is a refocusing now? We need


to change our focus on to the economy. That is the one thing


since the days of devolution that has not gone in the right direction.


Our economy in Wales has been in decline over the last 20 years and


we really need to change our game plan in terms of dealing with that.


Because the Assembly does not have any powers over taxation, there has


been very limited incentive to actually increase the numbers of


people paying into the tax pot, if you like. That has to be the next


big step change for the National Assembly. What would be the big tax


change that he would propose? would like to see the National


Assembly over a range of taxes. Including income tax? Partly over


income tax as well because that is the biggest earner and the one you


can do the most with. But if you have got a range and you can make


powers to make changes within the range of taxes, then you have more


flexibility and more power to your elbow in terms of changing those


things that need to be changed to have a successful economy. What is


clear to me is that what we are doing now is not working and what


we have done over the last 20 years has not worked. We have an economic


crisis were far too many people are really struggling in Wales and the


need to seriously address the economy now. 11 seats out of 60 in


the last election. What is the yardstick for success for Leanne


Wood? What are you aiming for? 15, 25 seats? You must have a realistic


look at the targets. What are you aiming for? I am not going to put a


number on it. Double it? We need to improve on 11 seats. That could be


12 or 13. Would that be good? can do a lot better than that. I


believe we are working very hard on putting together a programme of


Government that will be exciting. We are opening up our candidate


selection process so we will have a very strong, high quality team of


candidates in that election. I firmly believe that we can do very


well. We will talk to you again. Thank you for coming in.


This is a direct question. Where were you on Thursday? The answer


most of you will give is not other polling station. Wales was electing


its first Police Commissioners but the average turnout across the


country was just under 15% and Wales did provide some interesting


headlines. Including 0 turnout at one polling station in Malpas


Cricket Club in Newport. The blame one game well and truly under way.


We now have four Police Commissioner's wielding significant


power and influence, but is their mandate weekend by the lack of


concern by Welsh voters? Ian Johnston has stood as an


independent and is a former police officer. Thank you for coming in.


It is a very responsible position to be in. What do you see as the


main challenge for you? I think the main challenge is to reconnect


communities, certainly where I am represented, in Gwent, who tell me


over the past five months that there are certain aspects of


policing that they are not happy with. That is against a background


of Gwent having a very good record, certainly in terms of reducing


crime. The review of how policing has gone, that is perhaps a little


bit apart from the way that the chief officers see it. Give me a


practical example of the things that people want to see change.


People are not happy about the lack of feedback when they make a


complaint. Ironically more people are unhappy with the police after


they have had an experience of making the complaint than they were


before. We need to do something about that. Low follow up after a


complaint is the biggest issue that came to me following the campaign.


How disappointed, frustrated or even angry are you that voters did


not want to engage with the process of electing you and your


colleagues? It is extremely frustrating. I stood as an


independent and I am not here today to score cheap political points.


The facts are that as an independent I had the


responsibility for getting leaflets out to people. The Government


denied voters the free mailshot. I don't know how many voters know


this, I did not, that during the election the comfort that to get


through the door is paid for by the Government. We did not get that


this time. I managed to distribute with my two of people 180,000


leaflets but I know that many people did not put money levered


out at all. -- my team of people. Are you going to be more cautious


in the way that to tackle things now? Will you think that most of


the public are not on side in this process? I think in nine months'


time that people will forget about the poor turnout as long as the new


police and crime Commission is doing a good job. That is the big


if. -- Police and Crime Commissioner. Yes, I am the 4th of


the people and I am addressing the complaints. I think a lot depends


on the 41 people to make as excess of this. The system is flawed but


we have to make it work, and it is the people who have just been


elected that do that. Including the Independents. We will invite you


back and measure performance against that yardstick. Thank you.


We would be very interested to find out what you make of the Police


Commissioner's role and indeed by many of you could not be bothered


to vote. Send us your comments. You can email and use Twitter.


I have to say that you have certainly sent us plenty of Commons


in recent weeks. Let's start with the state of the NHS following our


reports on standards of care. A retired nurse from Abergavenny is


concerned about plans to change the way at that hospital services are


delivered in Wales. It is very sad that the NHS, which was born in


Wales, is dying here. It is obvious that there was Government is not


doing us any favours. Simon Morgan worked for the Department of Health


in London and has recently moved Let's stop there for a second


because Betsan Powys is with me. She has been monitoring all of the


messages that have been coming in. Let big about the importance of the


health reforms in the big political climate. -- let's think about.


These emails tell us that it is right at the heart of it. The role


of the national clinical Forum, the body at arm's length from


Government, there to give the minister clinical expertise or as a


shield, depending on your take on that. The question this week about


whether they should stand their ground when they say things that


health boards do not like. The head of the NHS in Wales says that he is


confident that local health boards will break even this year. Health


minister has staked her reputation on doing exactly that. If they do


not, and there are plenty of Assembly members suggesting they


will not, will Hernych be on the line? We will keep tabs on that. --


will her neck be on the line? Lisa Morgan has been in contact


over Twitter about people going into care homes unnecessarily


because of a lack of information, what she calls a postcode lottery


in Wales where care is concerned. The outlook for what economy is


very much on people's minds, a -- for the Welsh economy. Chris Benson


said that small businesses need speed, efficiency and less


bureaucracy to succeed, which was a common theme. Alan Clark had


concerns over possible changes to the Welsh Government's powers to


collect tax. He said that if the Welsh Assembly go ahead with the


income tax proposal it will cost Wales jobs, because it will


antagonise companies and they will avoid expanding or coming to Wales.


That brings us right to the heart of one of the hot issues of the


moment and we can expect news on that tomorrow. Yes, the Silk


Commission reports tomorrow and they will be handing it over to


David Jones, the Secretary of State. They were sent out, a cross-party


commission, to consider the way that Wales should be funded in the


future. The wedding ring in their ears was accountability back then.


-- at the wording ringing in their ears. The word that has come back


is empowerment. What does that mean? Stamp duty, passenger duty on


aircraft, taxation like that will be interesting, but the really big


question will be the page about income tax. What will they decide


on that? What is your hand? word empowerment sounds positive to


meet and I think they want to be part of the way to say yes on


income tax. We will effect on that next week. I know that you will


have an opinion on all of that. Please keep your comments coming in


Is Welsh rugby in crisis? While the Welsh Rugby Union declare record profits the four Welsh regions are reporting mounting losses. We speak to the man in charge. And as Scotland prepares for the independence referendum, we ask where next for nationalism in Wales?

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