WRU in shock move to centrally contract top players

wyn jones
A statement from the WRU this morning revealed the the Union offered on Monday, just hours before Regional Rugby Wales’ announcement backing the Rugby Champions Cup, to centrally contract the country’s top stars in a bid to keep them at their regions and halt the player drain to France and England.

The proposal would see top players such as Leigh Halfpenny, Sam Warburton, Adam Jones, Jonathan Davies, Alun Wyn Jones and Ian Evans – all of whom are out of a deal at the end of the season – contracted to the WRU until the European crisis is solved and the regions are in a position to renegotiate with their stars.

The full statement read:

The Welsh Rugby Union remains confident that a positive outcome will be arrived at regarding the future of European rugby.

Meetings have taken place across Europe over the past month and the WRU has continued to lead the Welsh negotiations. The WRU believes that it is not helpful to comment publicly at this time regarding such negotiations as detailed discussions are taking place in private with all of the key stakeholders.

Due to the length of the ongoing European negotiations the Welsh Regions have expressed concerns about their ability to conclude their own negotiations with leading players who are approaching the end of their existing contracts.

To help and support the four Welsh Regions the WRU has offered to immediately assist to enable the Regions to retain their leading Welsh qualified players in Wales.

The WRU has offered to contract all of the Regions’ leading Welsh qualified players who are out of contract at the end of this season, on appropriate terms to be agreed.

Once the negotiations regarding the European tournament are successfully concluded the WRU would permit the Regions to revert to the current position with the agreed contracts being reassigned back to them.

The WRU has committed more than £33 million to the four Welsh Regions over the course of the next five years to retain players in Wales, in addition to all of the Welsh revenues generated from the RaboDirect and any future European competition.

The WRU is prepared to draw down from this £33 million investment immediately to secure the future of outstanding Welsh talent for Wales and assist the Regions.

The Group Chief Executive of the WRU, Roger Lewis, said:”I want to make it clear to our players that we have full confidence in the future of the elite game in Wales.

“It is important that any player considering his future right now fully understands the level of support the WRU is prepared to offer.

“It would be inappropriate to go into details about any negotiations or discussions which rightly have to be concluded in private, but I respect the concerns of the players at a time when our talks on Europe are continuing.

“Our squad is about to embark on a demanding Autumn series of international games and it is vitally important that all of their minds are completely focused on the task in hand.

“I shared this proposal with the Regional chairmen on Monday of this week and look forward to what I expect would be a positive response.”

What do you make of this proposal?

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

22 thoughts on “WRU in shock move to centrally contract top players

  1. This is sly. They’ve wanted to do this for years and the regions have refused so now they’re trying to pretend it’s some sort of magnanimous offering. If the WRU came out and backed the new Euro cup right now then there would be no transition period.

    I’m all for central contracts myself but not as some sort of rider on a deal on a new Euro cup. This could scupper the regions moving towards the new Euro cup if the WRU try and make this a condition of their blessing. Very messy.

    1. Why have the regions been refusing this? Is it because they will get their funding cut accordingly (or perhaps not “accordingly”), or that they will lose playing control of the players?

      1. Lose control – the investors in the regions see the players as their prized assets – signing them over to the WRU leaves the regions with not much really. It’s a battle that has been going on since regions came about in Wales. It’s all about control.

        1. What will keep the regions afloat if WRU adopts central contracts. The regions already have financial troubles and if, as stated above, the regional investors see the players as their prized assets, what is the incentive for investors to invest in the regions? I assume that even the capital from a European cup can’t compensate for the potential loss of investors.

    2. I’m just wondering if it’s actually a behind the scenes deal. The WRU offering permission to join the Champions Cup in exchange for the central contracts that they’ve wanted for years. I may be reading more into it than is there, but it’s still interesting

  2. I just fail to see why this is apparently exciting? Don’t the Rugby Blog have anything better to write about… You know, like actual rugby.

    1. Liam. I think you’ve failed to realise that (a) this is interesting and (b) if we don’t get this euro mess sorted out, there won’t be half as much rugby next season to talk about. I think the Rugby Blog does a darn good job on the whole reporting things of interest and things that make us comment!!

      1. If you think this is interesting then you live a seriously boring life. It might have once held some slight appeal, but talk about flogging a dead horse! Yeah we get it, the WRU is messed up. Now quit banging on about contract this, and contract that….

        1. I find fishing and golf incredibly boring, but I’m not going to claim I’ve got a better life than every fisherman or golfer because of it. Just comment on things you are interested in, problem solved.

        2. Though perhaps not as boring as the one lived by someone who comments on blogs about subjects that he finds boring. Imagine how tediously empty that persons life must be – instead of not reading it they feel the need to type to tell everyone else how boring it is. You must be the life and soul of the party – “Stop doing this boring thing that I don’t like that other misguided people seem to be enjoying discussing…”.

          1. Or maybe I click on an article expecting to read some real news,and instead end up reading the same rehashed drivel.

            But whatever. I suppose some variety in the articles would be way too much excitement for you two online lovers to handle eh? Just go back to agreeing with everything each of you type.

            1. Liam. You obviously don’t read this blog very often as this is probably the first time that I have ever agreed with the one eyed Welshman.

  3. Welsh clubs have the most to gain from a new breakaway competition as they have no pedigree in the ERC, so im not too surprised by this. A clean slate i just what they need to pretend everything is ok with the peeformance of their regions. Welsh people shoild be weary of that mentality as it doesnt address the true issue. But legislation to keep Welsh stars at home is a positive start and ‘could’ bear fruit in the coming years.

    1. Classic doublethink; Post a personal opinion at the start “welsh clubs have the most to gain” and then by the end you’re using it, as if it is an unarguable fact, to belittle others “Welsh people should be wary..” Nice of you to be worried for us but honestly, we are fine and you have totally misunderstood the situation here. Some people need to realise that the quality of the teams is irrelevant here, this is about finances. Yes, the PRL will happily run a Euro comp without Leinster in it. They don’t give a stuff about your previous HC wins, this is about money and governance. Join or stay out, but it’s a bit cheap to abuse others who’ve decided to join.

  4. Money and Power are the stakes! Everyone is manoeuvring and leaking and briefing, etc, etc. At the end of the day, none of the players in this game have covered themselves in glory, but if we have a sensible European competition next year then I as a fan will be happy (well mainly!).

    All the parties should be condemned for behaving like prats, so to that extent agree with Brighty (I have to say I’m looking forward to proper rugby again when I can disagree with him!) that you can’t just blame one party or the other, they are all entwined with this and are all equally guilty of the blame. That includes my union and my club, and not just everyone else’s.

    1. Yes, can’t wait for real rugby when I can yet again explain to you why Lyds is the best six there is!

      Annoyingly though I think you and I might agree on something else – Foden. Pub last night, everyone having a great laugh that yet again England value the prosaic, the stats demon, over the obvious talent and flair. Someone else put it brilliantly yesterday “a fullback who runs the ball back like a forward” – that’s Mike Brown. Long may it continue that England overlook the jewels in their own yard. The sniggers at leaving Foden out turned into guffaws at the likely suggestion that Wade won’t make the team either.

      1. How very English of us to leave out Foden and Wade! Sad, but true.

        Whilst Yarde could well turn out to be a great player, Brown has shown he isn’t.

        18 caps and 0 tries = not good enough. I know people blame it on him playing on the wing, but he has played FB as well. Does anyone know the stats on this? The only time I remember him playing wing is last autumn then the 6N. So 8 matches? I can’t remember him playing wing in any other games so has he had 10 caps at full back as well?

        1. It’s 10 on the wing and 8 at full back (5 under Lancaster)


          Foden was moved to the wing to bring Brown in at fullback, and Foden scored a try! Wings generally have better strike rates than fullbacks and get more try scoring opportunities, so not scoring from the wing either isn’t a ringing endorsement.

          I get the excitement over Yarde, really exciting prospect. But if Wade doesn’t make at least the 23 then I’m losing faith.

          1. Thought that was the case – I really don’t think Brown can complain. He has had a chance, and if Foden was injured then Brown is an excellent replacement. BUT, Foden is true international class, which is something Brown can not claim to be!

            Not sure Wade can take the 23 shirt. Is he versatile enough? 23 is usually a utility back, probably Eastmond or maybe even Foden?

      2. I hate agreeing with you again, but just can’t understand Foden being left out. I love the Brown comment – sums it up brilliantly in my mind! Rest of his game is sound but just seems to completely lack vision. Can understand Wade though. Not sure his form has been quite as good this year, whereas Ashton (one of your favourites) has actually found some form. Still thank goodness for Lydiate – can’t see why everyone in the principality loves him so much………!!! ;-)

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