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Wales make £1 million available to halt player exodus
ESPN Staff
June 27, 2013

The Welsh Rugby Union is to make £1 million available to try to stem the exodus of leading players to England and France. A stream of internationals have moved away because of the better rewards available and current British and Irish Lions George North, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate all left the Welsh regions at the end of the 2012-13 season.

The WRU has come under heavy fire from the regions and the relationship between the board and Regional Rugby Wales (RRW), the body which represents the professional teams, has grown increasingly fractious. At one point RRW refused to attend meetings with the WRU although they have now resumed.

A WRU said the funding, which is part of a wider £2.5 million cash injection into the game, will "target the development, recruitment and retention of Welsh international players".

"We have identified the priority of keeping Welsh qualified players in Wales and developing them to their full potential," WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis said. "Our discussions with the regions are continuing on a range of issues but this is a clear indication that the WRU will engage in a meaningful way within the financial constraints we all know exist.

"This is a one-off amount but the investment is of a scale which can be of true benefit to the game at the professional level."

The investment was welcomed by Stuart Gallacher, the chief executive of Regional Rugby Wales. "We remain focused on our original published objectives, including the development of Welsh international players and their retention in Wales [and] are of course encouraged to hear of any proposed initiative that may help contribute to that particular goal.

"We very much look forward to hearing the details behind the WRU's announcement and understanding the mechanism by which the proposed one-off action will make a positive and sustainable contribution to our game over time."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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