Regional Rugby Wales on behalf of the four Welsh regions, the Scarlets, the Ospreys, Newport Gwent Dragons and Cardiff Blues issues the following statement in order to establish important facts and provide clarity regarding the future of Welsh regional rugby.
- The Rugby Champions Cup will bring the biggest increase of funding into the Welsh game in five years. It will increase funding to the Irish clubs and protect the Scottish clubs. Bringing in £12m in three years into the Welsh game does not threaten the Six Nations or bring about its demise.
- In only two months, the Welsh Regions have themselves, negotiated the biggest increase in funding for Welsh Rugby of the last five years and are simply asking the WRU as the governing body for support in this.
- The WRU not only has full responsibility, but is also contractually obliged to negotiate competition revenues and TV distribution revenues under the Participation Agreement. The WRU has failed miserably to negotiate equitable and fair revenue distribution for Welsh clubs in line with clubs in England and France.
- The ERC Accord finishes this year and the WRU’s latest proposal for a replacement to exclude the English clubs includes six undefined French clubs and maintains an unequal distribution of revenue to the Welsh clubs. Given the other opportunities that now exist, it is an inferior competition. The proposed competition would only be available on Sky TV, not terrestrial television, as is the case with the existing European competition.
- It’s disappointing that the WRU’s disrespectful response to another significant and positive proposal from the Regions (as it was to the real PRGB last year) is once again to engage in a vitriolic and disingenuous attack on the Welsh Regions; with the purpose of detracting attention away from the real issues Welsh regional rugby is facing and that need addressing urgently.
- The Regions would question why the WRU are scaremongering about a break away. This has never been mentioned by the Regions who have only asked for positive support as outlined in their most recent statement of 31st December. As stated then; it continues to be the absolute intent and strong desire of RRW and the Regions to work with the WRU in progressing such a positive position for the next five years of professional Rugby in Wales, or indeed to discuss any proposals WRU themselves may have that could provide an even stronger platform for sustainable and competitive professional rugby across Wales.
- It is incredulous to the Welsh Regions that the WRU refused to discuss any item in the current Participation Agreement before its deadline of 31st December but is now willing to offer a “new agreement” on different terms. Equally it is yet to be explained by the WRU why bringing an additional £12m into the game by the Regions, is not in the best interests of Welsh rugby.
- It would seem from the recent correspondence from the WRU to clubs in Wales that their focus is all about control and not the best interests of Welsh rugby.
- RRW and the Regions, through no choice of their own, have been forced to consider every alternative to secure a sustainable future for regional rugby in Wales; and have worked tirelessly to be able to plan their futures positively based on new options in the absence of any concrete proposals on income and distribution for Europe or the PRO12 league.
- The proposed “one-off payment” of £1m for the recruitment, retention and development of Welsh international players was always linked to a requirement for the Regions to sign an extension to the Participation Agreement. In the Regions view, it was purely a hollow stunt because it always carried impossible conditions.