The row deepens

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The row deepens

Post by dancarreg on Sat Dec 07, 2013 6:29 am

Paul Rees of the Guardian says that the regions are right to take the WRU to court AND HE THINKS THEY'LL WIN.
His full report is here......

Wales's four regions will have showdown talks with the Welsh Rugby Union next week, ready to take legal action for the right to play in cross-border tournaments without needing permission from their governing body.

The regions are angry that the WRU used last month's international programme to try to persuade players who are coming out of contract with the regions at the end of the season, including Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny and Alun Wyn Jones, not to sign new deals.

The participation agreement between the regions and the WRU, which covers the release of players to Wales, runs out at the end of the season. The union has given the four until the end of the month to commit to what would be a rolling on of the agreement until 2018 with no extra money.

The players were told that if the regions did not sign an agreement which would mean that they would receive the same amount in real terms in 2018 as they did in 2009, the union would offer them central contracts and look to set up their own teams.

The regions and the WRU will meet on Wednesday when the professional rugby game board convenes for the final time before the 31 December participation agreement deadline. One reason that the four have refused to sign is uncertainty over the future of the Heineken Cup and the offers that have been made to players in the last year of their deals are conditional on there being a European tournament next season.

The regions pledged their support for the Rugby Champions Cup, a tournament proposed by the England and French clubs to replace the Heineken Cup, only for the WRU to commit them to the competition run by European Rugby Cup Ltd at a meeting of unions in Dublin towards the end of last month.

The regions have taken legal advice and believe a precedent set 20 years ago makes success against the WRU more likely than not. Newport County, the football club which had been reformed after going bankrupt, was told by the Football Association of Wales that it would no longer be able to play in the English league system and had to take part in what was the then League of Wales. The club took the FAW to the high court and won, and last season secured promotion back to the Football League.

"The WRU, by telling us we have to play in the Heineken Cup with a more modest increase in funding than the other teams in the tournament at a time when we receive less centrally than any of them, are not allowing us to run our business properly," said one regional official. "It amounts to a restraint of trade. We believe we have the right to explore opportunities elsewhere, whether it is an Anglo-Welsh league or an alternative to the Heineken Cup. We are being squeezed by our own union to the point where they are telling our players not to sign contracts. This cannot go on."

The regions are considering calling an extraordinary general meeting of the Welsh Rugby Union and proposing a vote of no confidence in the executive, not because they entertain any prospect of winning but because there is a desire to make their dealings with the union in the last couple of years public.

Some players have already decided not to get involved in the crossfire. The second-row Ian Evans is leaving Ospreys for Toulon and the region has given permission to the Wales hooker Richard Hibbard, who has another season on his contract, to talk to Wasps and will not demand a transfer fee if the forward agrees terms out of respect for the 10 years he has spent with the side. Contract offers to his fellow Lions Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Jones remain on the table.

Scarlets hope to retain the fly-half Rhys Priestland, a target for Gloucester, and the centre Scott Williams, but the lack of progress on Europe has made the four regions, who have agreed to stick together and speak as one, determined to go their own way if talks with the WRU next week yield nothing.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by Evans the nine on Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:50 am

Wow things are really getting desperate. I can sympathise with both sides.

For the regions, they feel that the WRU has too much say, but will any of them fancy a relegation battle in the Aviva ?

For the WRU, they probably look to Ireland and Scotland and wonder why did they not retain full control of the professional clubs themselves.

There is also a wider issue for European rugby here too. If the WRU lose this battle, what happens to the remains of the Pro 12 and professional rugby in those countries ?
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Re: The row deepens

Post by Old Parish on Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:30 pm

Let the regions do what they want, centrally contract the internationals that have not already left and build elite clubs to replace the regions. The regions will be in administration inside 2 years.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by dancarreg on Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:38 am

Old Parish wrote:Let the regions do what they want, centrally contract the internationals that have not already left and build elite clubs to replace the regions. The regions will be in administration inside 2 years.
And in a nutshell that's precisely what Roger Lewis is working towards, except the regions will be in administration by the end of this season.

3 "super teams" in south Wales based on Cardiff, Llanelli and the valleys with a completely new one in North Wales.The three "super teams" in south Wales all owning their own grounds, with 1404 renting for now.

Of course he does assume that fans will string along..................
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Re: The row deepens

Post by JOHNTYWYN on Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:55 am

Perhaps the Regions should get shot of the W.R.U. and appoint their own governing body; the Rugby Federation of Wales. Transferring ownership of the M.S. may involve bitter court action; but if they should block it, there will be minimal income and going into Receivership will be inevitable.

The management of rugby in Wales will then be firmly in control of the Regions, and a more realistic finance package will be released to the Regions, Clubs and Academies. If the W.R.U. /M.S. should go into liquidation the receiver will be happy to receive an offer equal to the outstanding liabilities.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by dancarreg on Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:09 am

Now Nigel Davies has joined the fray...........http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/25271373
Not so helpful and he has had a couple of Welsh players and wants three more.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by JOHNTYWYN on Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:17 am

If it is true that the W.R.U. have actively tried to persuade players not to resign for the Welsh Regions, then I feel the Union is self destructing !! I would suggest that all season ticket holders refrain from advance purchases of season tickets for the 2014/15 season until this situation is resolved. Furthermore, I would also suggest that the T.V. companies cancel their contracts with the W R U and Regions, and should this happen most advertising would be lost.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by Old Parish on Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:28 pm

dancarreg wrote:
Old Parish wrote:Let the regions do what they want, centrally contract the internationals that have not already left and build elite clubs to replace the regions. The regions will be in administration inside 2 years.
And in a nutshell that's precisely what Roger Lewis is working towards, except the regions will be in administration by the end of this season.

3 "super teams" in south Wales based on Cardiff, Llanelli and the valleys with a completely new one in North Wales.The three "super teams" in south Wales all owning their own grounds, with 1404 renting for now.

Of course he does assume that fans will string along..................
Isn't the refrain from fans that the regions was an experiment that didn't work and they would prefer to go back to a more traditional club system? I would have thought a lot of people would like this idea. If there was a way to have relegation/promotion linking the Premiership and the Rabo maybe that would be a pretty good option. The third team in the south would be the headache. Realistically, if you take out the Ospreys then it has to be Swansea, but not everyone will see it that way.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by dancarreg on Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:31 am

Here are the figures, rounded.
Llanelli Scarlets av attendance = 6,800
Ospreys av attendance = 8.500
Blues av attendance = 7,200
Dragons Av attendance = 5,900
total 28,000.
The big problem with going back to "super clubs" is that too many fans have got out of the habit, or have never gone.
The thinking behind Llanelli being a standalone ( again) club is that those who are currently Ospreys fans will trot down the road to PYS.
Cardiff fans who have never had to adjust will just carry on. The Dragons will also vanish while Neath,Bridgend/ Pontypridd/ Ebbw Vale will combine to form a valley team.
Lot's of assumptions there i know ( and we all know what the first three letters of that word form) b ut it is where the WRU are right now, for instance some O's players have been given to understand that they will be imported to either Llanelli or Cardiff.
No one at this moment seems to think that going back to the Premiership format has any viability and in truth it really doesn't, much as I personally would love to revisit, today's youngsters would simply look to football.
And that's where they are going in droves now.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by Evans the nine on Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:27 am

Another argument against a return to the old club system is the quality of play.  The top  players will not only want the money,  but will also want to play against the best and compete for the best silverware they can.  Will it be possible for this to happen with the clubs when it's a struggle for the regions as they stand.

The more I hear the more I believe the WRU want to see the back of the regions as they stand. Roger and co want ownership of the teams, the players' contracts and the profits.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by dancarreg on Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:21 pm

If anything will persuade fans to walk away it's the latest news this morning that Warburton looks set to leave.Wednesday is the deadline.
Roger Lewis is really looking smarter than Nero with his fiddle, does he really think the fans will come flocking back when he controls everything?
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Re: The row deepens

Post by dancarreg on Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:42 am

Tom Shanklin, great player, has now waded in but he's looking at it from a players point of view.
Is there no one out there thinking of the fans, I'm really fed up with all of this and for me now let them go ( the players) and I'll just get on with the rest of my life. I will certainly NOT be renewing my season ticket that's for sure.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/25298056
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Re: The row deepens

Post by JOHNTYWYN on Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:22 am

The problem is, some of our players are getting a wee bit greedy. I appreciate that they have to make the most of their working life; but it is a professional game, and International stars will always find a job with the W.R.U, Regions or clubs when they hang up their boots, if they have not been snapped up by the media. My guess is that George North and Co will have very limited prospects once they stop playing, but those that stay home should have their futures guaranteed.

I appreciate your feelings regards next season Barry; I will probably follow suit as regards Internationals. £75 for an International ticket in this day and age is extortion. The money I save on tickets and travel would be more than sufficient to pay my t.v. license and sky package, and what is more I get a hospitality box at home that covers all games played on that day !!
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Re: The row deepens

Post by dancarreg on Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:26 pm

Here's Warren Gatland's take on it, it looks like a sort of plea for SOMEONE to step in and secure Warburton's future here.
Is that going to happen? Maybe but you have to wonder just what the WRU are really playing at, we have laid in the table an extra £1million so said /roger Lewis just as the season got under way, where is it?

10 December 2013
Last updated at 07:26
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Warren Gatland says Welsh rugby can 'ill afford' Sam Warburton exit

Warren Gatland has warned that Welsh rugby can 'ill afford' to lose a player of Sam Warburton's stature.
Wales and British and Irish Lions skipper Warburton has given Cardiff Blues and the Welsh Rugby Union a Wednesday deadline to put together a deal to keep him.
Gatland, Warburton's Wales and Lions coach, said economic reality dictates the player could leave.
But he added: "We can ill afford... to lose someone of that sort of calibre."
Wales' four regions - the Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons - have been operating under a £3.5m salary cap since July 2012.
Reports have linked Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons with a bid to join England's Aviva Premiership as rows over the future of European competitions continue.
The financial uncertainly has led to Warburton joining a host of players to consider their playing futures beyond the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
A number of Welsh international players are already at leading French and English clubs and Warburton is among those who could join them.
Wales players in "exile"
Lee Byrne - Clermont Auvergne

Luke Charteris - Perpignan

James Hook - Perpignan

Dan Lydiate - Racing Metro

Jamie Roberts - Racing Metro

Mike Phillips - Racing Metro

George North - Northampton

Paul James - Bath

Craig Mitchell - Exeter

Jon Davies - Clermont (from 2014)

Ian Evans - Toulon (from 2014)

Gatland said: "For me it would be such a shame to lose someone of Sam's stature.... he is the Wales captain, he is the current Lions captain and I think we can ill afford from a union's point of view and from a regional point of view to lose someone of that sort of calibre."
However, the New Zealander acknowledges players such as Warburton find themselves in the sort of situation common in football, citing the example of Wales star Gareth Bale's world record £85m move to Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur.
"We've got to face reality in terms of the economics and these guys are involved in professional sport," said Gatland after being named coach of the year at the Wales Sports awards.
"And if we can't match the offers and the huge offers that are being given to them overseas then sometimes you can't begrudge players those chances.
"They're only in his game for a short time in terms of a professional career and it's about looking after themselves and potentially their future and their families.
"And... we wouldn't be asking Gareth Bale to turn down that sort of money to… play in Wales, if that's what it meant.
"So let's just make sure that we're practical about it and sensible."
Play media

Beating England tops Gatland's year
If Warburton leaves the Blues, he could join fellow Wales and Lions stars Richard Hibbard, Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones and regional team-mate Leigh Halfpenny in departing the domestic scene.
Wing George North joined Northampton ahead of the current campaign while Lions lock Ian Evans has already committed his future to French club Toulon.
And Clermont Auvergne have signed Scarlets, Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies from 2014-15.
Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips and James Hook already play for clubs in France while George North, Paul James and Craig Mitchell are in England.
Gatland repeated his desire for anyone leaving Wales to ensure they have full release for all Wales playing and training duties.
Meanwhile, ex-Wales number eight Stuart Davies hopes Warburton can be persuaded to stay in Wales.
"With the competition that's out there from abroad it's not a battle that the Blues can win on their own," Davies said.
"With the context of the cap that's in place and the salary someone of Warburton's stature can command in the game these days you have to sympathise with the region that they can't cover it alone," Davies told BBC Radio Wales Sport.
"They probably can't put a package together that can keep Warburton in the place that he wants to stay by all accounts."
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis has previously said the union is committed to the supporting the regions.
"We sincerely hope that our professional regional organisations are able to retain their best players in Wales," Lewis said.
The WRU has offered to help the four regions keep their leading Welsh players in Wales.
The WRU said it would employ all of the regions' leading Wales players whose deals expire in 2014.
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Re: The row deepens

Post by Evans the nine on Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:44 am

"The WRU said it would employ all of the regions' leading Wales players whose deals expire in 2014."

Does this relate to central contracts, or a wider attempt to restructure the professional game?
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Re: The row deepens

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