Regions say no to Welsh offer of centralised deals for stars
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. The Welsh game has seen several of its star names quit regional rugby to ply their trade in France.
Lewis, the WRU's group chief executive, said in an open letter to Welsh rugby that £6.2m already given to the regions for international player release would have funded central contracts.
That sum is part of £15m the regions currently collectively receive from the governing body.
The regions' financial struggles have been well documented and there are some in the Welsh game who believe the WRU should be doing more to assist them.
In his letter, Lewis 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.
"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.
"That offer was not accepted by the regions. This may come as a surprise to many. But that is the contractual right of the 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. But that said, the good news 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."