WELSH Rugby Union officials have confirmed changes to the Principality Premiership for the next two seasons in order to meet the changing needs of the clubs.

The 16-team semi-professional league will be split geographically into two east and west eight-team leagues, with the clubs playing each other home and away.

Clubs will be split into east and west Wales leagues with RGC joining the west Wales league. This will guarantee more meaningful local derbies up to the New Year before all teams come together for the second half of the season.

Each club will then play the other 15 teams either home or away. At the split, points will be allocated to clubs based on league positions so the winners of the east and west leagues will go into the second half of the season with eight points, the clubs in second place will carry seven points into the 16-team league down to the eighth placed clubs who will carry one point, this will ensure all clubs remain in the race to be crowned Premier Division Winners.

Following an extensive consultation process with the clubs, the changes have been made in order to help support the clubs from a rugby, financial and supporters’ experience perspective and to fit into the national and regional pathway programme. There will be no play-offs, with the table-topping club at the end of the season crowned Principality Premiership champion in a straight-forward league system.

Julie Paterson, WRU head of rugby operations, said: “We have taken on board the views expressed by the Principality Premiership clubs, particularly in respect of the number and regularity of fixtures required to enable the clubs to be sustainable.

“We hope the east and west Wales leagues will build on the history and heritage of the Principality Premiership clubs while maximising the pride and ability to attract community support that comes from traditional local derbies. The geographical split will also help reduce travel costs for clubs and supporters.”

RGC will open their second season in the Principality Premiership with a trip to Llandovery on August Bank Holiday weekend.

Mark Jones’ side then host former club Llanelli on September 2, with the month also see the Gogs travel to Neath and Swansea before hosting Carmarthen and champions Aberavon at Parc Eirias.

The WRU National Cup winners conclude their campaign with a tough looking run in that includes Cross Keys and Cardiff over the Easter weekend, before they take on Pontypridd, Bedwas, Ebbw Vale, Merthyr and Newport on the final day.

RGC are also on the lookout for a sports therapist to join work with their U16 side.

The RGC Academy plays a vital part within the WRU North Wales Development Region, and anyone wishing to learn more about the role or apply should email odavis@wru.wales.