Newport Gwent Dragons rue the rules which saw Taulupe Faletau join Bath for free
Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies has described Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau's move to Bath as a "worst possible outcome" for the Welsh region.
Aviva Premiership club Bath announced on Wednesday that 24-year-old Faletau will join them next season, meaning that he is set to link up with fellow Wales internationals Luke Charteris, Rhys Priestland and Dominic Day at the Recreation Ground.
Faletau's Dragons contract expires at the end of this season, but hopes of the Dragons securing a six-figure transfer fee from Bath were dashed when the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales head coach Warren Gatland blocked any immediate post-World Cup switch to the west country in October.
Under terms of the Rugby Services Agreement between the WRU and Wales' four professional regions, the Dragons needed formal approval from Gatland to let Faletau join a non-Welsh team.
Had they been granted permission, then the Dragons would have landed a fee for him instead of Faletau going for nothing when his contract runs out.
The Dragons said Faletau then made it known that his preferred option was to sign a national dual contract and remain with the region.
National dual contracts are funded by the WRU and a player's region, with a number of top Wales players currently on them, including Sam Warburton, Dan Biggar and Alun-Wyn Jones. They are aimed at keeping leading players in Wales.
In a statement released after Bath announced their Faletau swoop, the Dragons said: "Newport Gwent Dragons are able to confirm that they have today been notified by the player's agent that he is to sign for Bath Rugby next season.
"This follows the refusal by Warren Gatland to sanction a transfer request by the Dragons for the remainder of this season at the end of the Rugby World Cup.
"In light of this decision, Taulupe made it known in mid-November that his preferred option was to sign a national dual contract and remain with the Dragons.
"Whilst there then followed a period where it was not known whether such a contract would be made available, in the last week or so negotiations have commenced between the Welsh Rugby Union and the player's agent on this matter."
Davies, meanwhile, added: "We welcomed Taulupe announcing his desire to stay at the Dragons, since he has consistently stated that he would not wish to play for any other Welsh region.
"Following the failed move to Bath this season, it was our sincere hope that negotiations with the Union would be concluded successfully and we would retain him with the support of a national dual contract. As such, we were willing to support the negotiation process in whatever way was necessary.
"This is the worst possible outcome for us, given all that has gone before, and it leaves us feeling extremely disappointed as well as significantly worse off financially.
"It remains the case that such is his professionalism, that I have no concerns about Taulupe's contribution for the remainder of the season, and it goes without saying that he will always be welcome here after his departure.
"We will now consider how best to invest elsewhere the money set aside for Taulupe's next contract."
Faletau made his Wales debut in 2011 and has won 52 caps. He has also played in a World Cup semi-final and quarter-final, in addition to enjoying Six Nations title success.
"The way Bath approach the game suits my style of play, which was a big factor in me wanting to join," Faletau told Bath's official website.
"The opportunity to work with Darren (Bath first team coach Darren Edwards) again after doing so with Wales Under-20s and the Dragons was also too good to turn down.
"I would like to thank the Dragons for everything they've done for me in my career."
The WRU, meanwhile, confirmed that national dual contract negotiations with Faletau had continued until they were informed of his decision to join Bath.
The WRU said: "During the negotiations, the WRU and Newport Gwent Dragons continued to liaise on all developments.
"The WRU is disappointed, but accepts the player's decision in which he identified a desire to pursue a new rugby challenge at this stage of his career.
"It remains the policy of the WRU to keep as many Welsh-qualified players as possible in Wales with one of the four regions.
"There are currently 17 national dual contract players divided between the four Welsh regions."