Nigel Davies condemns 'shocking' Welsh rugby apathy

Ex-Wales boss Nigel Davies says "shocking apathy" could prompt the nation's regions to defy the Welsh Rugby Union and quit the Pro12 to join England's top flight.

There is an on-going exodus of leading players from Wales amid disputes over the future of European competitions.

Gloucester boss Davies said: "The apathy within the game in Wales to do anything about it is shocking."

He says the WRU should back any regions bid to join the the Aviva Premiership.

Davies signed Wales scrum-half Tavis Knoyle from Scarlets ahead of the 2013-14 season and Ospreys and British and Irish Lions hooker Richard Hibbard could move to Kingsholm at the end of the current term.

Ex-Llanelli centre, captain and coach Davies briefly succeeded Gareth Jenkins as Wales coach in 2007 and went on to lead the WRU's development department.

Wales players in "exile"

Lee Byrne - Clermont Auvergne

Luke Charteris - Perpignan

James Hook - Perpignan

Dan Lydiate - Racing Metro

Jamie Roberts - Racing Metro

Mike Phillips - Racing Metro

George North - Northampton

Paul James - Bath

Craig Mitchell - Exeter

Jon Davies - Clermont (from 2014)

Ian Evans - Toulon (from 2014)

In 2008 he returned to Scarlets as head coach and moved on to Gloucester in 2012.

In the meantime, Gloucester have been one of the leading English clubs agitating for changes to the governance, finances and entry qualification for Europe's top tier Heineken Cup.

That has led to England's clubs opting out of any competitions run by European Rugby Cup Ltd after the end of this season.

And the instability created by the English clubs' stance has helped create financial uncertainty for the four Welsh regions - Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons.

Ex-Wales captain Gwyn Jones believes the WRU is happy to see the regions become weaker while the four teams - under the umbrella organisation Regional Rugby Wales - are considering legal action against the governing body in Wales.

But Davies contend the WRU could help solve the crisis by backing the regions if they bid to leave the Pro12 and enter England's Premiership.

He said: "If it were done through the Welsh Rugby Union, possibly there would not be such damage.

"But would such a thing happen through them? Probably not.

"So you're probably looking at some sort of breakaway which would have a significantly detrimental effect on the game in Wales."

A Welsh-English club tournament is very attractive to many people

Nigel Davies Gloucester coach

Scarlets are losing Wales Lions centre Jonathan Davies to Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys while Wales and Lions lock Ian Evans is going to Toulon - the latest confirmed departures from the domestic Welsh game.

But a host of others are out of contract at the end of the season, including Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton and his Wales, Cardiff Blues and Lions team-mate Leigh Halfpenny.

Ospreys Wales and Lions forwards Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Jones are also among those off-contract in the summer of 2014.

Davies added: "There's a distinct lack of star names in the regions, and those are the players that actually attract people to the game.

"And young rugby players growing up in the region, and supporters too, they need stars, they need people they can look up to.

"And that makes them want to be part of it.

"Wales are losing that because they haven't got that type of player there.

"And that's a worry for me, not in the short term but certainly in the medium to long term.

"The apathy within the game in Wales to do anything about it is shocking, it's absolutely shocking.

"I would have thought that the powers-that-be will be looking at it [a move to the Premiership] for obvious reasons.

"The fact that in Wales the regions are bleeding players, and there seems to be no help to support them there financially, or any other way, then you would question, and you would have to look at what their options are.

"As regions, they're not getting any support from within.

"Take the Welsh regions out [of the Pro12] and that causes a whole host of problems.

"But in terms of coming into an English system, or an Anglo-Welsh system, I think it's got a lot of merit.

"Commercially there are a lot of opportunities. A Welsh-English club tournament is very attractive to many people."