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Welsh rugby at crisis point as peace talks break down

The regional sides are unhappy with the level of funding on offer from the Welsh Rugby Union.

The Scarlets and Blues are in precarious positions with future WRU funding in doubt.
The Scarlets and Blues are in precarious positions with future WRU funding in doubt.
Image: Huw Evans/INPHO

PEACE TALKS BETWEEN the Welsh Rugby Union and Regional Rugby Wales have broken down again, with an official statement from the latter casting doubt over the future of the regional sides.

RRW, which represents the Cardiff Blues, Newport-Gwent Dragons, Scarlets and Ospreys, says the four Welsh regions must now consider the “stark practical consequences” of proceeding as entities without any WRU funding or support.

The previous participation agreement between the two bodies expired on June 30, and months of “indescribably tortuous” meetings have failed to yield a new deal that both parties are happy with.

As a result, the Welsh regional sides, who compete in the Guinness Pro12, are looking at life without any “WRU support or involvement.”

The creation of the four regions ahead of the 2003/04 was greatly controversial in Wales at the time and their history has been littered with issues over location, funding and the actual relevance of the sides to real Welsh rugby fans.

Under the previous agreement, the regions were understood to have received more than €8,000,000 from the WRU as compensation for losing players to the international team, to pay wages, and for other important running costs.

However, RRW has become unhappy with that sum and feels the regional sides need more WRU investment if they are to compete in the Pro12 and the new Rugby Champions Cup, where the wealthy French and English clubs will have a financial advantage.

Leigh Halfpenny The Welsh sides cannot compete with the financial might of French and English clubs at present. Leigh Halfpenny has moved to Toulon this summer. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The WRU have issued a statement of their own in response to RRW this afternoon, saying they are “saddened and surprised” at what the regions’ umbrella body has expressed.

The union continues to outline that it “will not respond to the highly emotional content of the document” and will instead focus on reaching an agreement with the four Welsh regions as soon as possible.

Continuing, the WRU statement points out that it is “extremely unhelpful to the process for emotionally charged statements to be made, either verbally or in writing, to interfere with this process.”

The tit for tat nature of the RRW’s statement and the counter-statement from the WRU demonstrates that all is far from well between the bodies, and Welsh rugby fans will be concerned that a resolution looks far from likely at present.

Read RRW’s statement here —>

Read the WRU’s counter-statement here —>

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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