After receiving indications from three notable Premiership teams in the Cardiff pathway that they would not be participating in the new Elite Development Competition, the Welsh Rugby Union has summoned an emergency meeting for tomorrow night.
WalesOnline is aware of With the deadline for expressions of interest set for Friday, Cardiff RFC, Merthyr, and Pontypridd are seriously considering not applying because they have concerns about the feasibility of this new competition. The salary cap, fewer home games than in a typical community season, the planned midseason break with no fixtures, commercial viability, and the potential dilution of iconic brands are among the issues that all three clubs have already discussed with the WRU.
In an effort to close the gap between the semi-professional and regional divisions of the game, the WRU created the EDC. Ten clubs will join the professional division of the sport beginning of the upcoming season, most likely all from the Welsh Premiership, which means they will fall under the purview of the Professional Rugby Board and the Rugby Management Board.
High-ranking sources have informed WalesOnline that Cardiff, Pontypridd, and Merthyr are dissatisfied with the £150,000 pay cap they must abide to and have requested a bump to $175,000 from the WRU. The clubs are also dissatisfied with the way the season is set up, and a significant club on the Dragons pipeline has expressed concern.
There will be two events at this level starting in the upcoming season: the WRU Elite Domestic Championships and the WRU Elite Domestic Cup. While the cup will be held in March and April, the EDC will be played between September and December. Up to the autumn internationals, the EDC will follow the URC with a block of rounds, but after those, the competition will rest for three weeks before continuing with the remaining rounds.
Depending on availability, it will end with a final at Principality Stadium in late December. The cup competition will begin after the Six Nations and will typically consist of six or seven rounds, with a final as its conclusion.Check out my monthly rugby newsletter column here.
The hiatus between December and March is necessary to avoid conflicting with the U20s Six Nations. It is hoped that during this time, players who stood out in the EDC will move up to represent the regions in the United Rugby Championship.
With only nine home games confirmed for the upcoming season, many prospective EDC clubs are worried they will lose out on revenue as a result. One club is particularly worried about how it will affect their bar takings. Each application has to “provide a guarantee of matching funding totalling a minimum of £315,000 for the full three-year term of the EDC licence” , in addition to having to “have access to the required matchday facility standards” .
WalesOnline has also been informed that the WRU will evaluate the £150,000 salary cap to see if it is adequate to help clubs competing in the league. Each EDC club will currently get a £105,000 funding from the WRU, which must be supported by a solid business plan.
Cardiff would suffer a major setback and would need to find replacement teams to compete if Cardiff RFC, Pontypridd, and Merthyr did not indicate an interest to apply by Friday at noon.