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Heineken Cup
Pressure grows on Welsh clubs to decide
ESPN Staff
October 7, 2013

Less than 24 hours after the organisers of the breakaway Champions' Cup gave the Welsh clubs until the end of October to decide if they wanted to join, Welsh Rugby Union chief Roger Lewis has warned a failure to sign a new contact with the board could mean an end to regional rugby.

The four regions - Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons - are due to be signing a new deal with the WRU and the £1 million being earmarked to help clubs keep players from moving abroad is conditional on this. The agreement, among other things, sets out which competitions they will play in.

Lewis said he understood the regions' position on needing to know what tournaments would be available next year before committing to a new agreement.

"At the moment we are waiting to hear back from the four regions, we met with them last week, we outlined our joint views on players and those views were arrived at between discussions with the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union coaching staff. And we've also expressed the clear terms and conditions, and one of them ... is the participation agreement."

The deal has to be signed between now and December and would commit both parties through until 2019.

"We now await that, because without that there's no certainty for the regions, and no certainty for ourselves. We all know that if one doesn't sign an agreement well there is no region, and that is the consequence of not signing an agreement.

"I don't want that to happen, I don't think the four regions want that to happen, but if that's the case we then have to think what is the future for professional rugby in Wales."

Asked to clarify, he said that without an agreement there would be no Rabo Pro 12 and no Heineken Cup. "They'd not be receiving the monies off the Welsh Rugby Union, they would not have insurance off the Welsh Rugby Union for their players and they would not have any referees."

This leaves the clubs caught between a rock and a hard place and they are believed to be seeking clarification as to what happens if, as expected, the English and French clubs quit the Heineken Cup and how the WRU would fund the game.

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