North's future sparks Welsh row
Mon, 01 Apr 2013 12:53
The Scarlets are astonished and disappointed
Wales wing George North's proposed move from Scarlets to English Premiership club Northampton has sparked a major row between the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the country's four professional regions.
Regional Rugby Wales, the body that represents the four Welsh regions, has called on the WRU to help prevent the steady drain of leading Welsh players to clubs in England and France.
North's fellow Wales internationals James Hook, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Dan Lydiate and Jamie Roberts have all joined clubs outside the country in recent years as Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Newport-Gwent Dragons struggle to retain their best players due to the spending capabilities of clubs in France and England.
But the WRU on Sunday claimed Scarlets attempted to sell North without first informing the 20-year-old.
North has a year remaining on his current contract at Parc y Scarlets, but appears set for a move to Northampton for a fee reportedly in the range of £250,000, having rejected a move to France.
The WRU also claimed they were prepared to provide the backing to keep North in Wales by tying him to a central contract, only to later discover the regions had an agreement in place not to field any player contracted to the union.
But the Scarlets slammed those suggestions and asserted that far from actively seeking to offload North, they have done all they can to retain his services.
Their statement read: "The Scarlets are astonished and disappointed that the governing body of Welsh rugby has chosen to speak about an individual player from within our region publicly in this fashion.
"We must therefore clarify, that at no time has the WRU made any proposal to us to help retain any player international or otherwise within our region.
"Any contract discussions involving George North have only taken place within the last two months including the Scarlets' offer of a three-year contract extension that was the very best offer that the club could make."
The WRU responded by urging the regions to abandon their opposition to central contracts, which is their preferred method of ensuring the best Welsh talent remains in the principality.
In a separate section of its wide-ranging statement, the WRU also laid the blame for the delay in establishing a Professional Regional Game Board firmly at the door of the regions.
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