Welsh regions 'mystified' by WRU stance
January 2, 2014
The Cardiff Blues are facing an uncertain future © Getty Images
The Welsh regions claim they are "mystified" by the Welsh Rugby Union's stance and are hopeful the organisation will back them in their plans to join the Rugby Champions Cup.
The civil war in Welsh rugby escalated on Tuesday when the Welsh regions refused to sign a new Participation Agreement with the WRU and instead delayed the deadline until January 31. In a lengthy statement, the regions stated their desire to join the Rugby Champions Cup, instead of playing in the Heineken Cup next season, but reiterated their wish to find an agreement with the WRU.
The WRU ignored these suggestions of potential compromise and said their agreement with the regions would end on June 30, a statement which seemed to cut the Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets adrift. The WRU also reiterated its support for the European Rugby Cup Ltd-run Heineken Cup and said Welsh teams, though unnamed, would continue to play in the PRO12 next season.
Blues boss Richard Holland told Scrum V he was surprised by the WRU's stance. "We are mystified by it. We have been in negotiations with them for a while now and we haven't made any ground on any level."
He said he hopes the WRU will back their plans to join the Champions Cup when they see the financial benefits as the regions claim a move to that tournament would generate an extra £1m revenue.
"That would enable us, as regions, to be stronger and have further discussions with the international players we are so keen to try and keep," Holland added. "It would also see additional resource coming in for the Irish and a small increase for the Scottish.
"We are hopeful once the Union receive the proposal that they will agree to it and we can move forward with the Champions Cup, the PRO12 and the LV= Cup. We have always wanted to work in collaboration with the WRU and we are hopeful they will see the merit of the competition we are putting forward and agree to it and we can get around the table and move forward.
"I would hope the WRU board would see the regions have come up with a plausible compromise to the current impasse and will see the merits of all the good work we have done over the last five years."
For Dragons CEO Gareth Davies, he hopes for compromise and does not want the situation to end up in court. "If this does go to court, a High Court judge stuck in London will decide the future of Welsh rugby," Davies said. "That should be a concern for the directors of the WRU.
"I would ask those directors to consider, hand on heart, whether they agree with what is going on."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene