Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Lewis: Central contracts were rejected

Roger Lewis has written an open letter to Welsh rugby

Welsh rugby chief Roger Lewis has claimed the country's four professional regions rejected a chance for Wales' entire international squad to be centrally contracted.

Lewis says the Welsh Rugby Union offer to Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets was turned down in mid-August this year.

In an open letter to Welsh rugby published by the Western Mail Lewis, the WRU's group chief executive, said: "An important fact related to the salary issue is that the WRU, on August 14 this year, formally offered to the four regions to centrally contract the entire international squad of players within Wales."

The letter continued: "It would have meant that the WRU would have managed players' salaries and careers, and directly we would negotiate with any player seeking to leave Wales.

"The £6.2m player release money would be retained by the WRU to fund this, and the surplus - and yes, there is a surplus - would be spent on nurturing new talent.

"That offer was not accepted by the regions. This may come as a surprise to many. But that is the contractual right of the four regions and I respect it. I have moved on.

"Subsequently, though, there have been half-baked comments in the press about dual contracts and top-up payments from people who I would think should know better.

"At this point, raise your eyes and say, 'that's Welsh rugby for you!'"

The Welsh game has seen several of its star names - players like Mike Phillips, James Hook, Gethin Jenkins and Luke Charteris - quit regional rugby to ply their trade in France, while Blues centre Jamie Roberts and Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate are the latest to be linked with moves abroad.

Lewis continued: "But that said, the good news I can share with you today is that we are close to creating a new partnership with the four regions which is based upon all of us working together, to sort out all of the four regions' problems, with a proper regional management board contractually underpinned and with real teeth. We are focused on the future and getting it right for the long term for regional rugby."

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