THE dream of a professional rugby region in North Wales facing top European teams is still alive, according to the Gwynedd-based author of a new book on the state of the game in Wales.

Seimon Williams, whose book, Welsh Rugby: What Went Wrong?, lifts the lid on the game in Wales in the professional era, says the Welsh Rugby Union is still actively considering a northern franchise.

Williams’ book charts the tragi-comic progress of the game in Wales from the early 1980s to the present day, and he believes the time for a Northern franchise has moved closer, with budget cuts putting the squeeze on the existing Welsh sides.

His own beloved Scarlets are propping up the United Rugby Championship (URC) with the Dragons just above them while the Ospreys and Cardiff are both in the bottom half of the table.

According to Williams, there have been three occasions when a northern region might have replaced one of the southern franchises.

The book doesn’t make for cheerful reading, but is a valuable addition to the findings of the report in which one WRU director admitted: “The WRU Board was both frightened of what they had to do and unaware of what they had to do.

“If I ask the right question, I don’t know what to do with the answer. So, it’s much better not to ask the question.”

Williams' book was inspired by the events of early 2023 which contributed to the establishment of the Rafferty Inquiry, and it highlights many of the lowlights of the WRU's dark journey through the years of professionalism.

He said: “If the national team is getting smashed and the Welsh regions are getting smashed, then the attractiveness of the product that is Welsh rugby is diminished.

“For most of the last 25 years, there has usually been at least one Welsh team that has been competitive at European level, but we are miles off that now and with budget cuts the regions are going to be less and less competitive.

“It’s difficult to see how that gets turned round. The WRU have just published accounts that show they turned over more than £100million, but made a loss and every area of the game is struggling to survive.

“They have now had to divert money back to the regions but it all seems too little too late.”

Welsh Rugby: What Went Wrong? by Seimon Williams is published by Y Lolfa, and priced at £9.99.