Big changes to the game with launch of Super Rygbi Cymru

May 20, 2024 - 291 views

Welsh rugby is about to undergo the biggest structural shake-up since the introduction of Regional rugby in 2003 with the creation of the 10-team Super Rygbi Cymru.

Following 9 months of applications and licencing, the 10 licenced clubs will move out of the community game in Wales to become aligned with the professional tier as a way to bridge the gap for players moving between the academies and the regions.

Super Rygbi Cymru (the official competition name replacing Elite Domestic Competition) will kick-off on the second weekend of September (Saturday, 14 September) and will see the clubs play 18 home and away league fixtures in the regular season before progressing to three rounds of play-offs and a Grand Final.  

Every team is guaranteed at least one Play-Off match and a further four games in the cup competition that will take place during the 6 Nations window, giving each team a minimum of 23 fixtures over the course of the season.

The first round of fixtures will see the last ever Indigo Premiership and WRU Premiership Cup winners Llandovery head to Pontypool Park to kick-off their pursuit of more silverware. The full fixtures for Round 1 will be:

Carmarthen Quins v Swansea

Ebbw Vale v Aberavon          

Newport v Bridgend

Pontypool v Llandovery

RGC v Cardiff    

As well as playing in the Super Rygbi Cymru trophy and cup, the 10 teams will also get the chance during the regular league campaign to fight for the ‘SRC Challenge Shield’. Similar to New Zealand’s Ranfurly Shield, the ‘holder’ will put up the Shield for competition in every home game in the regular league season.  

As the final winners of the Premiership Cup, Llandovery RFC will be the inaugural Shield holders going into this first season. Llandovery’s first defence of the Challenge Shield will be their first home game of the season against RGC in Round 2 at Church Bank.

Llandovery were unbeaten in 15 league and cup matches last season and will go into the first ever Super Rygbi Cymru season with an 18 match home winning streak dating back to 10 March 2023.

“The buy in from all the clubs has been fantastic and we’ve had many good planning meetings in the build-up to this launch, which we deliberately delayed to allow the final season of the Indigo Premiership to reach its conclusion.  Much has been said of the EDC to date, but now we’re excited to finally launch, Super Rygbi Cymru, as a fresh start.  

“The competition’s new look and feel is designed to be dynamic and eye catching, but unique to us.  It builds on our unique heritage and past, but captures our new ambitions for the future; the energy of the competition, the rising talent, and the working together,” said WRU Head of Player Development, John Alder.

“We’ve tried to be creative in our thinking about the design of the competition while keeping it aligned to the professional game calendar.   Each club will have at least 11 home games over the course of the season but we also wanted to ensure there is lots to play for, plenty of jeopardy, and there are exciting local derbies. The Regions are all on board and the new structure should raise standards all round.

“We’re excited to now see the start line of this new competition. Our goal has always been to provide better playing opportunities for current Academy and Wales Pathway players, as well as providing a vital alternative route into the professional game for players either released by the Regions, or those who develop later.

“We want Super Rygbi Cymru to be not only a breeding ground and finishing school for ambitious players to ultimately push them through into the Regions, the URC, and on to Wales but for it to be the optimal place for Wales’s best domestic players to play.  Our ambition over the next few years is to transform the competition into a competitive, progressive, and sustainable domestic rugby competition.

“We believe we have created the framework for an exciting and intense competition for both young and experienced players, clubs, and fans alike, with a new, vibrant, and fresh brand reflective of where we’ve come from and where we want to go – and all though a new collaborative system between the Regions and their Affiliate clubs.

“One of the exciting features will be seeing the seasoned semi-pro players who have operated to such a high standard over the past season playing alongside some of our most exciting talent. The link between the former Scarlets, Dragons and Wales centre Adam Warren and Wales U20 prospect Macs Page at Llandovery has been a classic example of how the younger players can learn from those who have been there and done it all.

“Alex Mann, Mackenzie Martin, and Lucas de la Rua have all benefitted from playing alongside Morgan Allen in the Cardiff back row, while Wales U20 caps Dylan Keller-Griffiths and Sam Scarfe have developed nicely in the Pontypool front row in recent seasons.

“Joe Westwood and Harri Ackerman have come through the ranks at Newport to make their Dragons debuts, while Dan Edwards and Morgan Morse both played for Swansea before clinching long-term deals at the Ospreys – and our goal is to make it even more intense, competitive, professional and aspirational over the next few years.”

RGC General Manager Alun Pritchard  "I’m really looking forward to what this new competition brings. It’s an exciting time and brings a modern edge to the league.

“In the meetings I have been involved in there has definitely been a buzz in amongst the clubs with a newfound togetherness and sense of direction.

“From an RGC perspective our hope is that this competition will result in more exposure and opportunities for our players whilst adding excitement for spectators with games of higher pace and quality."

The 10 clubs have all signed up to a ‘salary cap’ system that will enable them to spend up to £150,000 on a squad of 32 players.

The WRU will be providing £105,000 to each club, who in return not only have to commit to match funding that sum each season, but are also required to meet a set of minimum operating expectations in the running of both the club and their SRC rugby team.

Super Rygbi Cymru (SRC) will be aligned to the professional game calendar and the United Rugby Championship to create a collaborative working relationship between the 10 clubs and the four Regions. This will include breaks in the competition during the Autumn and Six Nations international windows.

The season will be played in three blocks (September & October / December / April & May):
Regular Season: 18 Rounds with all 10 teams playing each other home and away
Post-Season Finals: The post-regular season finals will consist of four knock-out stages

There will be three pieces of silverware available to the teams – the Super Rygbi Cymru Trophy, the Super Rygbi Cymru Cup, and the Challenger Shield.