Oval Talk

WRU looks foolish over Barbarians decision

Oval Talk

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The Welsh Rugby Union is threatening to devalue international
rugby with its decision to give Wales' home match against the Barbarians on
June 4 full-cap status.

Oval Talk first heard about it on April 1 so instantly
assumed it was an April Fools news story. But when it cropped up again a few
days later, it became apparent that those within the WRU are the fools.

Caps have been awarded
by Wales twice before in games against the Barbarians, first in the Baa-baas'
centenary celebration match in 1990, and again in 1996.

And this match heralds another
landmark: the WRU's 130th anniversary. But that is a poor excuse to
make this contest, or any such contest, for that matter, a full-blown international.
The actual anniversary was on March 12 so the Six Nations match at home to
Ireland should have marked the anniversary.

It is understandable that the WRU want to raise the
status of the match as it means they can increase the revenue by charging more
for tickets; however, it is simply preposterous. Why
would anyone be happy to spend £40 on a ticket to watch it?

WRU
chairman David Pickering said: "We are delighted to announce that Wales
will award full caps for this important and historic fixture."

It may be an historic
match, but important? The fans are not stupid - they know it is not a real
international. The Barbarians are not a Test team; they are not even a country.
The Baa-baas are called the Barbarian Football Club because that is what they
are - a club. You cannot have an international game between a nation and a
club. The WRU have simply lost the plot.

What is even worse,
they are insulting every player who has ever worn the red shirt. It is almost
impossible to imagine that back in 1974 the WRU refused to award caps for a
match against New Zealand.

It was felt that
because Wales had 'borrowed' the All Blacks from their Irish hosts, it did not
really count. The logic sort of made sense but had the modern-day WRU been
given the same opportunity they would have named it the game of the year and
given Test caps out to everyone, from the chairman to the ball boys.

And in the 1970s games
against Argentina, Japan, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Canada and Romania were not
classed as Test matches. So the likes of JPR Williams and Gareth Edwards were
denied a rare cap against the best team in the world but Stephen Jones could
make his 100th appearance against a scratch invitational team.

It just makes a joke
of the international arena. How the WRU feel they have the authority to change
the status of a match beggars belief. Decisions like this should be made by the
IRB but as usual they will do their best monk impression and take a vow of
silence.

You really can have
too much of a good thing and the international calendar is bulging at the seams
as it is. Adding a B-rate match to it taints the rest and rugby union is lesser
for it.   

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