WRU set aside £2m for central deals
January 31, 2014
The WRU has a growing war chest to tie more Wales stars to central contracts © Wales Rugby Union
The Wales Rugby Union (WRU) have set aside £2 million from sponsors to spend solely on central contracts in a bid to get more Welsh stars to follow the example of national captain Sam Warburton, according to Wales Online.
The cash windfall has come from sponsorships, though it is unclear whether the money will be an annual amount or just a lump sum. The WRU will target Adam Jones, Rhys Priestland and Scott Williams, who are all out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
Sponsors are keen to keep the best players in Wales, 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.
In a statement the WRU insist they will only step in with central contracts if the regions cannot strike deals with their leading players.
"The WRU encourages the four regions to contract as many key players as they can," the statement said.
"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, Rhys Priestland and Adam Jones respectively."
The news came on the same day the regions announced they are yet to receive an expected installment of their Heineken Cup cash. The four clubs were expecting to be paid £800,000 this week by the ERC as payment for competing in Europe.
But the money has not arrived, meaning the regions have had to make other arrangements to pay staff wages. The ERC insists the money is not due to be paid until February 5.
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