"Crowds at this weekend's Powergen Cup matches were higher than at the equivalent stage in any of the past three seasons...Over the course of the weekend over 50,000 supporters watched Powergen Cup matches at the grounds, with further millions tuning in to matches on BBC Grandstand, BBC Wales and S4C."
Taken from a Premier Rugby press release dated, October 2, 2005
If, despite their tireless efforts, a Premiership club were ever go to the wall rendering its administrators jobless, said bureaucrats can rest easily in their beds knowing a second career in ornithological construction awaits them.
For if the last ten years of professionalism have told us anything, it's that the top teams have become brilliantly adept at feathering their own nests. Someone else's should be a simple task.
Examples are not hard to dredge up - the ever present threat of ringfencing tells us that - and they come along with depressing frequency, too.
Take, for instance, the current spate of Powergen Cup, Trophy, Vase, Bucket and Empty Takeaway Foil fixtures that filled our programme last weekend. Even the purest form of competition - straight knockout - has been adulterated by those same businessmen looking to fill their stadiums and cash tills.
This, remember, was a form good enough for the Rugby Football Union circa 1972 - an organisation more conservative than the 1922 Committee - when they introduced the John Player Cup for the country's senior teams.
Now it appears, as if we didn't know, that some are more senior than others. In short, two years ago Pertemps Bees were good enough to defeat the European champions-elect on their own pitch, now they are not even considered to be sufficient quality to breathe the same air as London Wasps, let alone be afforded another chance to rub their complacent faces into the Causeway dirt.
That day, Sunday February 29, is one I'll never forget. It was a remarkable occasion when Hese Fakatou laughed at Simon Shaw's splattered nose, when Mark Woodrow likened his own kicking style to a toiletry procedure and when a bunch of teachers, sparkies, bouncers and warehousemen battered the best rugby team in the land into complete submission.
It was also one beautifully summarised by Kevin Tkachuk: "We are a group of ordinary people who have done an extraordinary thing," the Bees' tighthead prop observed afterwards.
Sadly it's a day we may never see again. The National League sides have been paid off and no longer take part in the elite competition. Theirs' is now the Powergen Trophy, a competition with reasonable prize-money but very little glamour.
In their stead are the four Welsh districts, Cardiff, Llanelli, Ospreys and Dragons, the latter two organisations with all the history of new-born baby, yet what they lack in pedigree they make up for at the box office and that's the key.
The Premiership sides have, through the introduction of a group stage, been guaranteed three home fixtures every two years, something they could not be so certain of in the previous knockout format. Win, lose or draw they get three opportunities to make some money.
The issue of player burnout is clearly not one that has concerned anyone when this scheme was being cooked up.
And the National League sides? Extra revenue streams for them? Apart from increased prize money sadly not, they have been left without fixtures on October 15 and November 5. What message does that send to the players, officials and supporters of clubs like Bees and Coventry?
The top flight teams might have failed to make a legally sound case for pulling up the Premiership drawbridge but they have turned their attentions to a more winnable battle - the Cup.
Premiership clubs feel no affection for the Welsh and merely insult the cherished memory of cross- border clashes of yore when they liken the current spate of matches to the days when Neath, Pontypool and Newport used to bring a touch of exotica to the English club scene.
All they are interested in is finding the next feather for their increasingly plush nests and they have violated the purest form of competition - knockout - to do it.