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