Cardiff win final place in Welsh rugby's new league in hammer blow to Neath

Cardiff Rugby have said "there were always going to be changes" after the death of club president Peter Thomas
Cardiff RFC have been handed the final place in Welsh rugby's new EDC -Credit:Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency

Cardiff RFC have beaten Neath to the 10th and final place in Welsh rugby’s new Elite Domestic Competition (EDC).

Wales’ capital club joined a second phase of the participation application process after the first round saw nine clubs awarded a licence. The news means the full list of clubs taking part in the EDC from season 2024/25 is RGC, Swansea, Bridgend, Llandovery, Cardiff, Ebbw Vale, Carmarthen Quins, Newport, Aberavon and Pontypool.

Cardiff were awarded the licence after a rigorous application process which also included a renewed application from Neath RFC. Cardiff scored particularly well in areas including their supportive relationship with their professional club (Cardiff Rugby), the role they have played in developing players for both regional and international rugby in the last five years, their rugby plan, the size of the community they serve, and their associated geographical position.

“Many congratulations to Cardiff who submitted a bid which placed them high up in the rankings on the scorecard we have used for awarding a licence,” said WRU Executive Director of Performance, Nigel Walker.

“We now have the recommended 10 licences in place and can look forward to a competition which will provide the missing link between our elite professional teams in Wales and the community game and vastly improve our pathway provision at the same time. We are grateful to all those who applied to join the EDC, it is unfortunate for Neath that, despite an improved application, they didn’t score enough points to be considered for a licence.

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“We are acutely aware that this will be difficult news for all of those at Neath rugby club and their supporters and we thank them genuinely for their passion and commitment to the process. The club will be eligible for a parachute payment as they join the Championship competition, with potential reconsideration for EDC next available in three-years’ time.”

An expert panel, which included two independent members considered the applications, consisting of Club Business Plans, Rugby Performance Plans and other key data. Applications were evaluated against the following five criteria: Organisational Due Diligence, Rugby Development, Growth Potential, Unique Selling Point and Public Interest.

The 10 licences are granted for an initial three-year term and the new EDC will now sit under the governance of the Professional Rugby Board, boasting a season structure aligned to the professional game, with clubs officially partnered with professional regions. As part of their licence, clubs will receive an increase in investment from the WRU and be required to work within a new salary cap, and meet Minimum Operating Expectations for the competition.

“This new league will join up our senior men’s pathway, but it will also be the shop window for the traditional club game in Wales and all the history and heritage that brings," said WRU performance director Huw Bevan. “This is a hugely exciting development for Welsh rugby and we need to ensure we have the right building blocks in place to achieve our ambitious aims for this competition.

“The league will integrate our long-standing, ambitious and committed semi-professional clubs in Wales with the professional game. It will support the development of high potential young professional players but also drive the quality of the domestic semi-professional game.

“We have already began working with the new licence holders and look forward to now establishing and activating the competition in what will be a new dawn for domestic men’s rugby in Wales. We intend to make further public announcements about the new competition at the completion of the Indigo Premiership season next month.”