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Wales Online
Wales Online
Jon Doel

Today's rugby news as Shanklin says 'average' Welsh rugby players are overpaid and WRU bans transgender women

Here are the latest rugby headlines on Thursday, September 8.

Shanklin says 'average' Welsh rugby players overpaid

Former Wales international Tom Shanklin says the Welsh regions are overpaying "average" players.

Speaking on the Flats and Shanks podcast, where co-host David Flatman questioned why a team like Cardiff cannot compete with a playing budget of around £6.5 million a year, Shanklin said he believed there weren't enough quality youngsters coming through the system, which had a knock-on effect.

He said: "It's about supply and demand. Because we don't have the quality of players coming through, clubs are desperate for a full-back or a 10 who is not quite the level but they have to pay over the odds to get him in. Everything else then is inflated as well. I think we are overpaying average players and that has just pushed the price up of every single other player."

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His views echo those of Wales legend Jonathan Davies, who earlier this year said: "Lots of players are not good enough for all four regional teams. Too many average players are being overpaid. Need to be brutal and honest. Soft culture. Players have to take a long hard look at themselves. No excuses."

The WRU and Welsh regions remain in dispute over a new funding figure and model going forward. The Union tabled a new £32million offer last week, but the regions believe it is riddled with problems and impossible to make work. You can read the full details on that here.

WRU bans transgender women

The Welsh Rugby Union has banned transgender women from playing women's contact rugby.

The WRU board met and passed an amendment to its gender participation policy with immediate effect on Wednesday evening. It says the move is based on the best current medical and scientific evidence and in line with World Rugby guidance.

The decision follows similar moves by the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football Union. The new policy means contact rugby for players in the female category is limited to those whose sex was recorded as female at birth. The previous policy allowed for participation in the women's game for transgender women depending on the outcome of a thorough medical process including testosterone tests prior to registration to play.

There are currently no registered transgender players in Welsh women's game.

Jenkins back in training

Ellis Jenkins has returned to training after undergoing knee surgery.

The 29-year-old underwent a "clean out" procedure at the end of last season which became problematic. Jenkins battled for two years and had multiple surgeries to save his career after suffering a severe knee injury in 2018. The current issue is with the other knee.

Jenkins hasn't trained all summer but is now back on the grass as of this week. It is unclear when he will play next but he appears certain to miss the start of the season as he returns to full match fitness.

Cardiff will also abe without Josh Navidi for up to six weeks after he suffered what has been described as a "neurological" neck injury. You can read more about that here. Centre Ben Thomas will be out until November.

Healey calls for debts to be written off

Austin Healey has urged the Government to write off the debts owed by English clubs in the wake of the pandemic on the grounds that they perform important roles in their communities.

The Gallagher Premiership launches when Bristol host Bath on Friday night but the new season is clouded in gloom before it has even started due to the financial crisis at administration-threatened Worcester.

The Warriors owe in excess of £25million, while Wasps head a group of additional clubs who occupy precarious positions.

Premiership teams secured £147m in loans from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) to help with the financial fallout of Covid but these are having to be repaid over 10 years.

Former England star Healey believes it will take Government assistance to improve rugby's outlook.

"Yes, off the field clubs have got financial difficulties, but you look around the country because of the pandemic, most businesses are in exactly the same place," BT pundit Healey told the PA news agency.

"Stock markets are off, credit markets are screwed, you can't get debt anywhere - and there's a lot of debt everywhere - but all that is a by-product of two years of Covid.

"Rugby was already a finely balanced industry and an immature industry before Covid - it already had a lot of debt - and Covid really hit it.

"It will bounce back. It's got some great owners, some brilliant clubs, wonderful fans, and it just needs to steady the ship and see its way through - probably with some help from the Government to be honest.

"The clubs have had debt provided by the Government but they've got to pay debt back. There's been a lot of writing off of loans in various other industries.

"In a time when we're seeing energy companies making bumper profits, maybe DCMS will do something to help the clubs across the board because of the feelgood factor that ruby gives to communities and the amount they put back into communities.

"You can't just help the ones that are in financial difficulty because it'd be unfair for them to just help one and not help the other 12."

Read more:

The Welsh rugby players the opposition say they admire most

Tonight's rugby news as Thomas Young starts in Welsh rugby return and Barry John's brother honoured

Video emerges of when the All Blacks played a 1990s World XV and chaos ensued

Josh Navidi suffers 'neurological neck injury' but Liam Williams and Faletau will make Cardiff debuts in opener

Uncapped Welsh flanker joins star-studded English giants

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