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Dublin: -1°C Thursday 15 April 2021

Taulupe Faletau's move to Bath is off after Warren Gatland blocks his transfer

Faletau will now likely leave the Dragons at the end of the season.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE WELSH RUGBY Union have blocked the potential sale of Taulupe Faletau to Premiership side Bath.

The 24-year-old number eight has been in discussion with an English side, believed to be Bath, about an immediate signing but the Newport Gwent Dragons have today been denied permission to sell the player.

With Faletau’s contract set to expire this summer, the Dragons had approached the WRU to seek permission to release him from his contract early, which could have earned them a six figure sum.

However, Dragons Chief Executive Stuart Davies says that their request has been denied by head coach Warren Gatland.

“This has been a difficult and sensitive rugby matter, in which the needs and wishes of a player, a region, the wider game in Wales and the national side have all been part of a rather challenging conundrum.

“At the heart of it of course is Taulupe, who has been loyal to and is very happy at the Dragons. Having become aware however of possible interest in him from an English club, he formally requested permission to speak to them, which we granted, with a view to establishing what was best for the player and indeed the region.

“There then followed a significant period of discussion and negotiation, during which we adhered to the provisions of the RSA. For this particular scenario, release of Taulupe from his contract would have required the National Head Coach’s permission, and the ‘wildcard’ provision within the WRU Senior Selection Policy was an important factor in this regard. As such, upon Rhys Priestland’s reported break from international rugby, the matter was revisited.”

Davies went on to say that while they understand Gatland wants to keep his best players in Wales, they are unhappy to have missed out on a major financial boost for the region.

It now looks likely that Faletau will leave the Dragons at the end of the season for free, with the Welsh side receiving no compensation.

“It was always going to be painful to lose Taulupe, given what we’re trying to build here at the Dragons, but our decision to pursue the transfer option was a very measured one, having regard to a number of considerations.

“Whilst we fully respect the aspirations of the RSA, naturally it is disappointing on this occasion that we have not been able to act independently in the best interests of the region, or to receive the required support in achieving our preferred outcome.”

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Neil Treacy

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