War breaks out in Wales ... again
The game in Wales have plunged into crisis again, after Regional Rugby Wales rejected the participation agreement proposed by the Welsh Rugby Union.
The game in Wales has plunged into crisis again, after Regional Rugby Wales rejected the participation agreement proposed by the Welsh Rugby Union.
RRW said the agreement was "completely unacceptable".
The four regions which form RRW - Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Llanelli - released a statement claiming every time progress was made "two steps back" followed.
Following months of acrimonious public spats RRW said they are now preparing for life without any form of "WRU support or involvement".
Under the old Agreement, the four regions received £6.7-million from central funds in return for international player release, observing overseas quotas and other issues such as the fourth year-end international match.
Their argument has been that the funding level has not kept pace with spiraling player wages and has left the regions unable to compete with Europe's top teams.
The peace deal which has been under discussion for some time is believed to involve an additional £2-million being made available for the central contracting of players in a bid to halt the exodus to France and England.
With those star names off their wage bill, the regions would have an additional £500,000 or so a year to spend on strengthening their squad.
However, with no resolution, the future of the regions and, potentially, the professional game in Wales is in doubt.
The statements of the WRU and RRW!
Welsh Rugby Union Statement:
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is saddened and surprised that Regional Rugby Wales (RRW) has today (Friday, June 11) chosen to publish a statement which is highly critical of the process aimed at concluding a new Rugby Services Agreement (RSA).
The WRU will not respond to the highly emotional content of the document and assures all involved with Welsh rugby that the governing body will continue to work with complete focus on reaching agreement with the four Regional Organisations as soon as possible.
Following receipt of a copy of the draft RSA with marked comments by Regional Rugby Wales the WRU responded in writing on Thursday 10 July with comments to the RRW amendments. This is the legitimate, proper and private method adopted within corporate governance for agreements to be negotiated and concluded.
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 WRU remains determined to conclude an agreement which will ensure the existing four Regional Organisations continue as the nominated teams to take place in all IRB sanctioned competitions for the professional level of rugby involving teams from Wales. The WRU urges RRW to continue to fully engage in this process and has been encouraged by some recent comments from senior RRW personnel confidently predicting a positive outcome soon.
The WRU is confident that the governing body and RRW are in substantial agreement on the total monies contributed by the WRU within the RSA and the governing body will work to ensure the rugby commitments associated to the payments are acceptable to all parties and in the best interests of Welsh rugby.
Regional Rugby Wales statement:
The term of the previous Participation Agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union came to an end on Monday 30th June 2014.
Sadly, the Regions regret to confirm that despite an indescribably tortuous process of endless telephone calls and meetings since January 6th, the control, commercial and financial conditions that are being demanded of them under drafts of the proposed new Service Agreement would be completely unacceptable for any responsible independent business to enter into and expose itself to.
The Regions are most grateful for the time and consideration of Wales' National Head Coach, who has worked hard to reach a constructive and positive balance on the core Rugby elements of the agreement.
The public statements of the WRU Chairman referring to the need for urgency are welcomed, together with the positive position of individual WRU Board members following the Regions' presentation to the Board during May 2014.
Unfortunately, these comments in the public domain do not reflect the actual process that the Regions continue to experience, with every apparent step forward eventually being replaced by two steps back.
The Regions have consistently made every possible effort to reach a positive and progressive agreement that truly works in the interests of both parties, to ensure a sustainable and competitive professional game in Wales at both regional and international level. They remain totally committed to the hope of reaching that solution.
However, after many months of working hard to try to progress a new agreement, it is with heavy hearts that the Boards of all four Regions must now urgently consider the stark practical consequences of operating within a business model that does not include any form of agreement with the WRU outside IRB regulations and no WRU support or involvement in the development of Professional Regional Rugby.