WRU offers to take biggest stars off regions’ books


The WRU has released a statement outlining their strategy for centrally contracted players, as was the recent, controversial, case with captain Sam Warburton.

The statement encourages the regions to sign their best players up, but says that if, for whatever reason, they cannot conclude negotiations with their stars, the WRU “will be prepared to negotiate a National Contract with the individual in order to keep them in Wales”.

The full statement reads:

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has moved to set out its arguments in full for securing the future of our international captain, Sam Warburton, to Wales under a new National Contract.

The overarching strategy of the WRU is to keep as many international players under contract in Wales with our four Regions as possible.

In order to achieve that aim the WRU encourages the four Regions to contract as many key players as they can under direct contracts.

If any Region cannot agree terms with a key international player the WRU will be prepared to negotiate a National Contract with the individual in order to keep them in Wales as the WRU did with Sam Warburton.

A nationally contracted player will be offered back to their Region of origin free of charge which means the money they would have been paying that individual could then be spent on other players to bolster their squad.

The clear intention is to ensure the four Regions have the opportunity of gathering the strongest squads possible to compete on domestic and European stages. To support this strategy the WRU has encouraged The Scarlets and The Ospreys to conclude negotiations with Scott Williams and Rhys Priestland and Adam Jones respectively.

The WRU remains willing to step in with National Contract offers for those individuals who were nominated by the Regions, late in 2013 as players they regarded as key members of their squads, whose services should be retained in Wales.

If the necessary negotiations are completed and the National Contract formula is secured in a new Rugby Services Agreement, the WRU will be prepared for some key contracts held by the Regions to revert to the governing body if the Regions wish and the players agree.

The WRU effectively seems to be offering to take the costs of the regions’ top players off their books, to be paid for by the union itself.

What do you make of this strategy? Is it a good one for the future of Welsh rugby, or will it merely exacerbate the already poor relations between the union and the regions?

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

8 thoughts on “WRU offers to take biggest stars off regions’ books

  1. Only leverage RRW has on WRU is control of players, once/if that is lost then RRW are pretty screwed.

    Last year the central contracts were mentioned as some sort of temporary solution whilst the Eurofarce played out, now it’s a long term solution, clearly it’s just thin end of the wedge and a means to introduce something that has long been a WRU goal.

    It’s a horrible messy halfway house, you either centrally contract 30-40 players or none at all.

    The timing sucks as well, I’m sure Gatland is doing his best to block out all these external issues and focus on Rugby and then the morons announce this (with RRW not helping by announcing there is no deal for centrally contracted players to play within regions).

    Feel very sorry for Warburton. No doubt he’s been motivated by attempting to do the right thing, sign the only contract available to him to continue playing in Wales, now he’s a pawn in a political battle.

  2. Surely this screws the clubs over even more? The agents for key players now know they don’t need to accept the contracts offered to players from clubs as if they hold out the WRU will simply offer them more.

  3. This is great, isn’t it? The WRU wants to tell the regions something so it does it via a general press release. Nothing messed up in the happy world of Welsh rugby at all…

  4. If I were a players agent, I would be rubbing my hands with glee at this.

    They have Top Players who want to earn as much as their talent allows them.
    They have French clubs who have bags of money to throw at them.
    They have – undoubtedly – players who would prefer to stay in Wales, which has previously been the Regions only hope of keeping them.
    Now they have the RFU prepared to bankroll them – which removes entirely the “do I move abroad” decision from the player.

    nb; I know very well that some players would jump at the chance to move abroad, experience a new culture, learn a new language etc, etc, but there is no doubt that a lot of players brought up through local academies (or clubs), regional rep sides, surrounded by family and friends, find the decision very difficult.

  5. And the costs of centrally contracted players is going to be deducted from the WRU contributions to the regions! What a mess!!

    1. Eh?

      So the WRU claim that by centrally-contracting key players they’ll be removing the burden of paying them from the clubs. But then they just remove that amount from the funding they give the clubs in the first place?

      Is that really what they are suggesting?

      1. Don’t think so, from ESPN, states there is £2m set aside for central contracts.

        “and the money comes on top of the £6.6 million of WRU funding to the regions which is already on the table as part of the Rugby Services Agreement currently under discussion”

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