Principality Welsh Premiership set for east-west split revamp

Merthyr are the reigning Principality Welsh Premiership champions
Merthyr are the reigning Principality Welsh Premiership champions

The Principality Welsh Premiership is set to be divided into two groups of eight teams in east and west Wales.

It is understood these plans have been approved by the clubs and will need to be ratified by a Welsh Rugby Union board.

Aberavon, Bridgend, Carmarthen Quins, Llandovery, Llanelli, Neath, RGC 1404 and Swansea will form the west.

Holders Merthyr, Bargoed, Bedwas, Cardiff, Cross Keys, Ebbw Vale, Newport and Pontypridd are in the east.

The clubs will play each other home and away in the first half of the season with more local derbies and less travel before all 16 sides join together, with points being carried over from the regional format.

The sides will then play each other once meaning clubs will have 29 guaranteed league games.

There will be no end-of-season play-offs and the side who finishes top of the table will be crowned overall champions.

This format would replace last season's competition when clubs were split into two sections of eight midway through the campaign based on positions in the table. There were only 22 guaranteed games for clubs in this competition.

Overall winners Merthyr won the Tier One final by defeating Aberavon while Newport were the Tier Two winners after beating Neath.

Good move

Neath coach Gareth Llewellyn, who played 92 times for Wales, welcomed the changes.

"The main thing was that nobody was happy with they way it was structured last season," said Llewellyn.

"Nobody wanted to be in the two tier system at the end of the season, now we have the two regional pools of the season going into a full blown league.

"More matches mean it's better for income potential. There maybe some teething problems as we go along which can be ironed out but nobody was happy with last year's system from the start.

"It has been driven by the clubs who have gone to the union and said we need to change and restructure what we are doing."

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