A radical overhaul of the PRO12 could be required if Celtic sides are to challenge in Europe once again, says Wales great Shane Williams.
The European Champions and Challenge Cup semifinals get underway this weekend with the PRO12 fielding just one side in the last four of either competition — the Newport Gwent Dragons take on Montpellier on Saturday in the continent’s junior competition.
The Champions Cup has recently been dominated by the heavyweight French clubs, with Toulon winning back-to-back titles from 2014. This season sees the Aviva Premiership going strong, boasting three of the last four European big guns.
There was a time when the Irish provinces reigned supreme in Europe, claiming the old Heineken Cup five times in seven years from 2006. The PRO12’s lack of representation this term, coupled with English dominance in the Six Nations, has led Williams to call for creative thinking to address the disappointment.
“If you look at the teams and the calibre of the players in the PRO12, they should be competing,” the former Ospreys wing told ESPN. “Some of the teams are very heavy in international players and you’d expect them to do better.
“Perhaps the PRO12 has not moved on in terms of the standard of teams over the last few years, while the Aviva Premiership and French league have gone up a step again. The Premiership looks stronger now than it’s ever been. To have three teams in the Champions Cup semifinals just goes to prove that.”
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