WRU chief executive Roger Lewis has denied that plans are in the pipeline to form four new rugby regions in Wales, despite the ongoing impasse between the union and the current teams. Speaking on Scrum V, Lewis said: “As the chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, I’ve not had any private conversations about setting up any new regions.” He added that he was “committed to making the four regions work”.
It was the first time the WRU and representatives from Regional Rugby Wales had spoken in public, and Gareth Davies, CEO of the Dragons, used the opportunity to ramp up the pressure on the WRU by claiming that the regions had a ‘solid’ agreement in place to join an Anglo-Welsh league, should the Welsh union fail to come to an understanding with them.
Davies said: “The understanding we have with the English clubs is quite solid, whilst not underestimating the enormous hurdles that are in the way of that happening.”
Former RFU chairman Martyn Thomas also weighed in, arguing that most English clubs struggled financially too and would welcome the boost in income from an Anglo-Welsh league.
“There is no crock of gold at the end of the rugby rainbow – there is merely pain and in fact cost,” he told Scrum V. “The majority of English clubs are losing money significantly and that’s a problem in fairness that’s replicated in Wales.
“In England it is far easier to get sponsorship – there is more money available. I think for the WRU and for the regions the issue for them is where they can bring extra money to the game.”
With six of Wales’ top players currently considering their future, with offers on the table from the WRU as well as elsewhere, it is a matter of urgency for both the regions and the union to come an agreement.
Meanwhile, the unions representing England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy will meet again on Tuesday to try to sort out what next year’s European competition will look like.
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