Welsh domestic situation set for court?
December 21, 2013
Central contracts would keep Wales stars like Halfpenny in the country © PA Photos
The battle between the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and regions looks set to end in the high court after discussions about a new participation agreement broke down this week.
The regions have until December 31 to agree to a rollover to the current agreement, which would bind them to the Heineken Cup and RaboDirect Pro12 until 2018. With no increase in central funding - the Guardian reports they lose £40,000 every time a high-profile player goes abroad - the regions look unlikely to do so, leaving the dispute heading for the high court.
The WRU are meeting on January 2 to discuss options in the event the four regions do miss the deadline, as is expected. BBC Wales reported on Friday that the body mused over offering central contracts to six of the region's high-profile players, including sought-after pair Sam Warburton and Leigh Halfpenny.
But the regions have expressed a disappointment at a lack of alternative options to discuss "critical issues" in a meeting between the two groups earlier this week.
A statement said: "Whilst we appreciated the seniority of the attendees from the WRU who clearly wanted to demonstrate that they were willing to listen to us, we also felt surprised at the lack of empathy shown to supporters who are facing the demise of professional rugby and the regions they have invested so much time, money and emotion in over the past decade. The WRU could give no assurances over the future of our game ... no solution to the player drain was offered.
"The understanding of the challenges the regions face to be competitive businesses and rugby teams aren't being fully appreciated," they said in the statement. We were disappointed to be informed that the WRU felt it was not an option to explore an Anglo-Welsh league, due to existing contractual arrangements, given the public excitement in Wales from regional rugby supporters."
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