The curtain duly fell on the domestic rugby season in Wales with many unlikely to be sorry to see the campaign end.
Two Welsh teams played out the last knockings, with the Dragons losing to Leinster in Dublin and the Scarlets pulling a draw from the jaws of victory against Edinburgh in Llanelli.
Will circumstances improve for the financially pressed regions in the coming months?
If they don’t, we are going to be writing the same lines this time next year.
That said, it wasn’t all gloom and doom over the weekend. There were some bright individual contributions.
Here are the winners and losers.
This gent has left the Dragons after they held off from offering him a contract amid a perceived lack of clarity over money from the Welsh Rugby Union.
Some have pointed out that the east Wales club managed to retain others.
Whatever, it adds up to a less than satisfactory way for a wonderful club servant and hugely popular player to depart.
The stalwart prop evidently has no hard feelings, though, taking to Twitter to say: “I would like to express my profound gratitude to everyone for your support and well wishes! It was a privilege to play at Rodney Parade and a great honour to serve the Dragons. Thank you to all the faithful fans who made playing at Rodney Parade one of my most treasured memories!
“I will support the boys from afar, and I will be there to cheer them on when they’re playing in my beautiful country. Thank you for making myself and my family feel very welcome and part of the Dragons family; we will treasure the memories for years to come! “
That, it has to be said, is a classy way to exit.
How good was this guy after he came off the bench for the Dragons against Leinster?
Wayne Pivac had hinted when discussing Wales’ back-row options last week that there was a need for those who offer that bit extra. “The way the game is going now at the breakdown and the way it is being refereed, there are not a lot of turnovers.
“I think we have got to have ball-players, guys who can carry and guys that can get over the gain-line.”
Within minutes of the multi-skilled Basham coming off the bench in Dublin he was taking the ball forward in a way that startled even the expensively assembled cast of blue-shirted opponents in front of him. He also put himself around in defence and still managed to put in a shift at the breakdown.
If he plays for Wales this summer, it’ll be intriguing to see how much of an impact he makes.
While their side may have lost, Wales squad members Tom Rogers and Kieran Hardy lit up Parc y Scarlets with their efforts against Edinburgh.
Rogers has pace, skill, deceptive strength, a spirit of adventure and courage — he doesn’t hesitate to put himself in harm’s way and compete at the breakdown, attacking the ball like a wolf in pursuit of a lamb chop.
He is also good in the air.
The official man of the match played at full-back on Sunday and backed up the belief of some who feel he might eventually settle in the No. 15 position.
If he was good, so was Hardy.
Indeed, he had one of his best games for the Scarlets.
He didn’t just see things a split-second quicker than anyone else on the field, he also acted faster and came up with excellent support lines for his two tries.
Maybe his best moment was the quickly-taken tapped penalty that ripped open the Edinburgh cover for Tom Rogers cross.
On another day, Hardy would have been named player of the day. All game the west Walian was electric.
Not picking up the gong wouldn't have caused him any loss of sleep, though.
More importantly, he showed Wayne Pivac he’s ready to battle Tomos Williams and Rhodri Williams all the way for the Wales No. 9 shirt this summer.
One word on Blade Thomson?
That covers it.
He was a top player in his day and he has worked hard for charity.
Oh, and he’s a nice bloke.
The assumption is he didn’t land an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for being a good sort, but, still, it’s worth noting.
Plenty will send their congratulations.
Welsh Rugby Union
Another weekend, another round of warnings about the challenges the Welsh regions face.
So much seems stacked against them, from loans that need to be paid back quickly to competing against better-resourced rivals and even the Six Nations deal with private equity firm CVC, with the bulk of that money set to be spent on long-term capital projects.
Casual observers of the scene in Wales may be fed-up with the seemingly never-ending rows over finance, but until there is some kind of level playing field for the regions to compete on, consistent on-pitch success is going to prove elusive.
The WRU say they want the four to succeed.
Talk is cheap.
The reality is it isn’t working out for all concerned with the level playing field the regions are looking for seemingly light years from being in place.
Barrie Jones, chairman of the Joint Supporters Group representing fans from all four regions, told The Rugby Paper : “There needs to be more than an assurance of survival.
“There needs to be a plan to enable the four regions to thrive in the PRO16 and in both European competitions.”
That seems fair.
Somehow the union need to do what it takes to improve the situation for teams who are representing Wales at the professional level of the game.
Dragons rugby director Dean Ryan said after his team’s loss Leinster on Friday evening: “People have to ask questions about what they want of the regions in Wales — whether they want to compete in PRO16 and Rainbow Cup.
“We did not have any players left at the end.
“That’s the reality of the challenge.
“People have to ask questions of what they want from the regions and look at whether they are resourced appropriately.”
It’s too easy just to knock the Welsh professional sides.
One former international this writer spoke to off the record over the past year called them “rubbish”.
But their performance is linked to their finances which are inextricably linked to the arrangements in place with the Welsh Rugby Union.
No one who cares about Welsh rugby can be happy with the situation as it is.
Things have to be better and it is overdue for those who can sort this out to do so.
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The haves and the have-nots battled in Dublin on Friday evening when Leinster took on the Dragons.
It was never going to end in anything other than a loss for the visitors.
They have performed encouragingly at times this season, but there are still holes in their squad and they were always going to find it tough against opponents who could afford the luxury of bringing Josh van der Flier, Devin Toner and Harry Byrne off the bench.
A 38-7 win for the hosts was a fair result.
OK, they didn’t actually lose against Edinburgh.
But they let a 14-point lead slip in the dying stages and had to settle for a share of the spoils.
The 28-28 draw in Llanelli felt like a defeat.
“We are all disappointed,” interim head coach Dai Flanagan said in an interview on Premier Sports. “We did a lot of good work, and then the last five minutes probably shows where we are at right now — full control to letting a 14-point lead go in the last five minutes.
“It’s important we draw a line in the sand now.
“We are working hard to try to get the best out of the individuals we have, but it’s disappointing to come away with a draw after the way we played early in that game.”
The Scarlets know it hasn’t been a great season.
They have shown glimpses of what they’re capable of, beating Bath at The Rec and the Ospreys in the rain in early May, but injuries have hit them hard and they’ve found it difficult to cope with so many Wales calls.
Dwayne Peel’s arrival as new head coach should at least see the reset button being pressed.
All concerned out west will hope for better next term.