IN NOVEMBER, 2013 Cory Hill ran out at Rodney Parade for his Dragons debut against Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, just five weeks after he had appeared at Pandy Park.

Less than six years later the lock has gone from regional reject to a firm fixture in Test rugby.

The rise of the man who scored Wales' vital try against England on the way to the Grand Slam has been well-documented, and his development happened in Wales.

It was at Pontypridd that he played while with Cardiff Blues academy and it was with the Dragons that he really flourished after being signed by Lyn Jones.

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Yet he wore the colours of Moseley in that British and Irish Cup game at Cross Keys five and a half years ago, when he was given a 10-minute breather in the sin bin during a 20-16 defeat.

Hill had an unexpectedly short three-month spell in the West Midlands after being rejected by his home region, but the English Championship has been a proving ground for those that want to be regional players.

It is a tough, uncompromising league featuring plenty of familiar names, and not just in leaders London Irish's impressive squad.

Former Dragons are dotted throughout the league – Will Harries and Pat Howard at Ealing, Lewis Robling at Bedford, Matt Evans at Cornish Pirates, Craig Mitchell at Yorkshire Carnegie, Gerard Ellis at Coventry, Rhys Oakley at Hartpury, Luc Jones and Nick Scott at Richmond.

Next year the Championship could very well feature George Ford, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Ben Youngs and Jordan Taufua after Leicester's implosion in the Premiership.

The English second tier is a standard that the Welsh regions would love their young talent to be exposed to, it's also a league that they closely watch to see how those that have slipped through the net are faring.

It is inevitable that the budgets at the Dragons, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Scarlets will lead to some migration across the border to both the English Premiership and Championship, be it bright prospects or those who have been victims of judgement calls.

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Talent is being scouted and snapped up by those with larger budgets, who therefore have more scope for taking punts and developing players in big squads like Bristol will be doing with Toby Fricker.

READ MORE: Fricker move highlights the regions' financial constraints

That doesn't make the loss of players any easier and it only leads to the blame game, with jealousy about how the route to becoming a top professional is structured in Wales.

If only it was still the Principality Premiership that was the next destination for those who, for now at least, are judged to be just shy of regional level.

There will always be the odd success story but those days are gone and moves have been made to establish A teams as the development vehicle at the expense of the domestic top tier.

These plans are wise as long as the competition for the mixture of fringe players and young talent is structured better than this season's Celtic Cup, which simply wasn't long enough.

But the shift away from using the Premiership has not gone down well with the clubs, who feel that they should have been backed with more money to improve their product (a horrible word, sorry) rather than having their funds cut.

WRU backing will drop to £75,000 to £60,000 and then to £50,000 by 2022, while those in the Championship will get £15,000.

There simply isn't enough cash to go around and the WRU believe there is simply too much waste in the Premiership.

At times it is hard to argue.

At the end of last year it was Neath in financial peril, in January it was Pontypridd asking for donations and this week it was Cross Keys pleading for help to raise £20,000 to finish the campaign.

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They certainly aren't the only ones in the 16-strong league to be struggling and the clubs' plight hasn't come as a surprise.

It has been on the cards long before the WRU announced plans to cut the league to 12 teams, a decision that led to an arms race rather than the tightening of belts.

Other squads were plundered and hefty pay cheques continued to be paid, all rather proving the governing body's point about wastage.

Too many heads have been buried in the sand, not enough of the clubs without a Stan Thomas or Peter Jeffreys to write cheques said no to demands.

I don't blame the players for moving for more cash – something that happens throughout the pyramid – but there hasn't been enough of a reaction to money being tight and getting tighter.

If individuals backers want to fund big wages that is their choice but the clubs have to be prudent.

The WRU certainly aren't blameless in this and their past Premiership criteria, such as the need for a grandstand with a minimum 501 seats and covered terracing for 1,000, put clubs under unnecessary financial pressure.

Added to that is the frequent experimentation with the league that has made planning a nightmare with the fixture schedule a constant source of frustration.

That will continue next season with Premiership and Championship clubs trying to survive with just 11 guaranteed home league fixtures to boost the coffers.

However, cutting club rugby free from development can be its making, giving clubs the certainty they need and appealing to a market and support base that doesn't give two hoots about professional rugby.

Some of the games can be great entertainment and an alternative to the full-time game.

This is a painful time for many clubs but if they make it through then hopefully they can prosper in a tribal league that is the pinnacle of the community game rather than one bolted onto the professional one, and skewed by it.

Premiership clubs may point to past wins against English Championship rivals in the cross-border competition, but those days are long gone and trying to bridge that gap is a mug's game.