WRU accused of 'power, divide, conquer, wipe-out' strategy
April 5, 2013
The likely transfer of George North has ignited the battle between board and regions © PA Photos
The increasingly acrimonious infighting within Welsh rugby rumbles on with claims from the four regions that the Welsh Rugby Union has an agenda to wipe them out and take full control of the game in the country.
At a press conference at Cardiff's Arms Park, the base for the WRU, Peter Thomas, the chairman of Cardiff Blues, did not mince his words. "I sum it up with the words power, divide, conquer, wipe-out, that's the agenda for certain people across the way. The means to sort out our problems exists in the professional regional game board but it has not met since it was set up last December and we need to start talking."
The PRGB board was formed last year by the WRU following a report by independent accountants and consists a representative from each of the four regions and four from the WRU with an independent chairman - Wyn Williams - who has a casting vote.
Thomas said the WRU refused to accept that casting vote. "I have sat on many boards in my time and I cannot recall one where the chairman did not have a vote. Why do the union not want the chairman to have a vote when initially they signed up to it? We should be working together for the benefit of all of Welsh rugby and we want to take it forward, but the way the WRU is acting is just deplorable."
The likely transfer of George North has proved the catalyst which has re-opened the chasm between regions and board. The loss-making regions have been operating under a strict salary cap but as a result several players, with North the latest, have left for clubs in England and France.
"A good way to keep players here is not to pick them for Wales if they go to England or France," Thomas said. Referring to WRU suggestions centrally contracting internationals might be the answer, he replied that "the devil's in the detail and we would lose our assets as well as our money".
Thomas' views were backed by Stuart Gallacher, the chief executive of Regional Rugby Wales, the umbrella organisation representing the four. "After the first meeting of the PRGB, the WRU have withdrawn from negotiations and made an alternative offer to continue with the existing management board with a non-voting chairman and to rename it PRGB. This creates a false impression that something has changed. We do not want to be part of something that is not transparent or democratic.
"For reasons I can only speculate about, the WRU is reluctant to take part in the game board, a body it helped set up. We're available to meet at any time but when they choose to attack us through the media, it is difficult to turn the other cheek.
"The professional game in Wales is in decline. Benefactors have put £40 million of their own money into the regions, developing the players who have brought international success to Wales, and they have been making good losses. That is not sustainable. We want an independent arbitrator to assess why it has been stalled.
"There's no point in having a summit about central contracts, something that would not help the nurturing and development of the game in Wales, never mind at the end of this month."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery