‘PRO12 a bleak prospect’ – Dodson

Date published: August 22 2016

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Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson has given an honest assessment of the future of the PRO12, as the new season approaches.

Dodson pulled no punches in his forecast of the tournament's future, revealing they're swimming against the tide from a financial aspect.

It's long been a trend that players who perform well in the PRO12 make the switch to either the Premiership or Top 14 on bigger contracts.

And in an interview with BBC Sport Dodson is worried things are getting worse, saying: "The truth is that the French and English have stolen a march and we understand that we have to look at ourselves. If we don't do something with the PRO12 I think it's a bleak prospect.

"We're finding it very difficult to hang on to our top players. Even the people who aren't leaving are demanding more. Unless we do something different we're going to struggle."

Television revenue is the PRO12 competition's main income but Dodson revealed that isn't enough to keep pace with their rival tournaments.

There has recently been talk of expanding the league to include teams from America and that appears to be a possibility in the near future.

"We've got to identify markets that matter and we have to be open-minded," he said. "To stay as we are isn't really an option. It's been out in the press that we will look at the eastern seaboard of North America (New York, Boston, Atlanta) to explore a new market that could provide a new team or two teams along with broadcast income. I think it's something we have to do.

"I understand why people would think it unrealistic. What we are doing now is working with individuals who are testing those markets for us. We're going to find out if it's feasible. We have to see if the big cities, and their businesses, want to invest.

"Our indications are that there is an amount of interest from American rugby and corporate America. There'll be a process that takes place over the next two to three months that will flush it out. There's a new mindset in the Pro12 now. I think it's appropriate that we do this – and that we do it with some speed.

"We don't want to leave this to 2020, we have to make this happen in a fairly short period of time or find something else. We're seriously investigating the possibility. I'd like to think it'll happen. It's the most attractive market that we can see."

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