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There is still so much for us to do says Aby.

EVERYTHING is geared for Gogledd Cymru's successful passage to Premiership rugby off the field, however, head coach John Aby admits there is still vital work to be done on it.

The team has a new home at Eirias Park in Colwyn Bay, a cooperative community interest company has been established - Rygbi Gogledd Cymru CIC - headed by team manager Kenton Morgan, and the juniors are also starting to enjoy success against their South Walian counterparts.

However, it is the senior team, the one that will feature in the Premiership for their proposed start date of 2010 that is giving most concern at present.

Last week Gogledd Cymru went down 76-21 at home to Russian champions VVA Monino, while they have also suffered defeats against the likes of Worcester Warriors A and Sale Jets (the Sharks second XV).

And Aby says something has to be done if his side are to become competitive when they make the transition to semi-professional rugby.

"Off the field everything is ready," he said.

"The business is set up, the ground is ready and the juniors are also doing quite well, and regularly competing against the regional sides in South Wales.

"All these things have superseded our expectations, but the reality is that the senior squad is still falling some way short. We must be competitive for the 2010 season and we have a lot of work to do over the next 12 months." The idea of Gogledd Cymru, a team set up to represent North Wales, was initially to consist completely of North Wales based players, or even players who were North Wales qualified, but played their rugby elsewhere, on the basis they had played at least one season in the North Wales league set up.

That however, has had to be changed now according to Aby, especially in the light of results with Gogledd Cymru staff instead now looking at enhancing their player base..

With their proposed start date for Premiership rugby looming large on the horizon, Aby adds: "The first idea was to use players playing in North Wales, but we have had to revise that recently.

"We have had two tiers of fixtures, the first tier was against the likes of Liverpool St Helens and West Park St Helens, and we have beaten both of them. But then we have played our second tier of fixtures against Worcester A and Sale Jets and last week against the Russian side and we have been beaten, and quite comfortably.

"One massive fixture we had was against Newbridge, who are top of Division One and with a very depleted squad with 10 minutes to go we were holding our own at 29-17. But then they cut loose and it finished 40-17, but like I said we were down on numbers, I think we had 16 players, while they had a squad of 30.

"But it's clear from things like that, that we need to enhance the playing staff over the next 12 months.

"What we are doing is talking to player agents and keeping tabs on players that we feel are Premiership quality, because that is the goal, being competitive in the Premiership for when 2010-2011 rolls around." So what exactly does this mean to the existing players in North Wales, who have been so committed to the cause from the outset.

Aby added: "What I've said to the players is that it is a bit like a revolving door. If you are good enough then you will come in and if you are not then you will go out.

"Every player in North Wales has had the chance to put themselves forward selection from the very beginning of this team and some have come on really well, some haven't. But every player has had the chance to come in and develop their playing skills and fitness levels.

"In an ideal world we would have 22 players in place from North Wales in 2010 that are of Premiership quality. But it isn't an ideal world and we will have to look at enhancing our squad over the next 12 months in order to make sure we are capable of competing."

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Gogledd Cymru can't stop Gavin Quinnell scoring for Worcester Warriors A side
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 16, 2009
Words:708
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