Lewis accuses regions of double standards
February 4, 2014
Sam Warburton puts pen to paper ... and Roger Lewis hopes there will be more © Wales Rugby Union
Embattled WRU chief Roger Lewis has said that what the regions claim publicly is different from what is happening behind the scenes and that they are open to expanding the number of players taking central contracts.
Last week the regions said Sam Warburton, who signed a central contract ten days ago, might not have a team to play for. Lewis, however, claimed quite the opposite and that both parties had planned for more such deals.
"What's said publically and what's been negotiated behind the scenes are very contrasting," Lewis told the BBC. "What we have on the table is a plan that we are discussing with the four regions - and they've engaged with it - is how we can nationally contract a spine, a core of players over the next five, six seven years."
Lewis said the WRU had been working with the regions for several months on how to halt the player drain and that it was the regions who had approached to board to ask for help with international players coming to the end of their contracts.
"[They]said they were unable to contract six players, they needed assistance and help with Jonathan Davies, Rhys Priestland, Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton. That's where it all began and then when the participation agreement wasn't signed by December 31 we put our minds to it ... and thought how on earth can we keep players in Wales?"
He said Leigh Halfpenny's move to Toulon forced them to "step in" and sign Warburton.
"What we've said to the regions is please sign up [those Wales players coming out of contract] and if you're unable to, for whatever reason, we will then step in and help you and sign them with national contracts."
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