Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

RRW: Deals are a 'knee-jerk' reaction

George North has been linked with a move to Northampton

Regional Rugby Wales has rejected an invitation from the Welsh Rugby Union to discuss the central contracting of players.

The WRU invited RRW - who represent the Ospreys, Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons and Cardiff Blues - to hold talks over the issue after releasing a critical statement on Sunday, sparked by George North's proposed move to Northampton. The WRU asserted it had offered to keep Scarlets wing North in Wales by tying him to a central contract, only to discover the regions had an agreement in place not to field any player contracted to the union.

The governing body then invited the regions to discuss central contracts - which they consider to be a possible solution to the drain of Welsh talent to French and English clubs - but the idea has been dismissed out of hand, with RRW describing central contracts as a "knee-jerk reaction".

RRW also pointed out the idea was not backed by an independent report into the state of the regions by PriceWaterhouseCoopers last year.

An RRW statement read: "The findings of the independent report made it clear there was no one bullet solution; including disregarding central contracts as an initiative which would not address the key fundamental issues facing Welsh rugby as a whole.

"Central contracts for individual players is a knee-jerk reaction - it will not help nurture the whole game in Wales including community rugby and the important role that our clubs play in helping develop young talent for Wales."

RRW also called for an independent arbitrator to be appointed to rule in the dispute over the stalled establishment of the Professional Regional Game Board.

The regions claim when a memorandum of understanding was signed in November 2012, it was agreed the newly-formed democratic body would have an independent chairman with a casting vote.

But after the body met for the one and only time to date in December, the WRU are said to have instead offered to stick with their existing management board with a non-voting chairman and rename it as the PRGB.

As a result the regions say they will now only hold discussions with the WRU through the originally proposed PRGB.

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