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.”
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