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Blues chief speaks out over Welsh rugby rift

CARDIFF BLUES chief executive Richard Holland does not hold out much hope of a peace deal with the Welsh Rugby Union after the deadline of agreement for next season and beyond passed along with the New Year bells.

He said the regions were committed to Plan A, which has been offered to the WRU, of continuing to play in a Celtic competition along the lines of the current PRO12, as well as a Rugby Champions Cup with the English clubs which could also include the Irish and the Scots.

Plan B is a breakaway league between the Welsh and English clubs, with all the potential governance and legal problems which that would involve. The regions have now set their own deadline of the end of January before they will push ahead with that alternative option recently confirmed with the English clubs.

In return, the WRU has threatened to pull all their funding from the regions and put it into alternative teams.

Holland explained the political situation: "We had a deadline (on Tuesday) evening to sign up to the Participation Agreement, which we couldn't sign because we still have not had any confirmation of what we will be playing in from a European perspective," he said.

 

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"We have decided not to extend the current terms. What we have done is put a new negotiated position on the table to play in a new Champions Cup with the English which would see the Welsh regions come into an additional £1million each for three years, which would also see extra resources for the Irish and Scots if they want to join.

"We could play in the Champions Cup, the Rabo and the LV= Cup, it would be £1million more per region than we currently get from the Heineken Cup.

"We hope that once the union receives that proposal it could agree to it and we could move forward. If the union does not agree then we revert to option B, but we do not want to discuss that or put that on the table because we believe Option A is a fair solution that we want to see put in place," added Holland.

"I was worried before Christmas because the options available to us were limited, now I am excited about where it may lead because Regional Rugby Wales has been able to negotiate a competition that will see us come in for additional monies that will enable us to be stronger as a region.

"It will strengthen the position of the regions and in my view strengthen Welsh rugby."

A WRU statement said: "The Welsh Rugby Union is confident that professional teams from Wales will continue to take part in sanctioned league and cup competitions in the best interests of all of Welsh rugby."


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