No deal in place for Warburton to play at a region

South Wales Argus: File photo dated 25/02/2013 of Wales' Sam Warburton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday April 30, 2013. Sam Warburton has been appointed captain of the British and Irish Lions for the tour of Hong Kong and Australia, head coach Warren Gatlan File photo dated 25/02/2013 of Wales' Sam Warburton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday April 30, 2013. Sam Warburton has been appointed captain of the British and Irish Lions for the tour of Hong Kong and Australia, head coach Warren Gatlan

THE Welsh regions say there is no agreement to play centrally contracted players – but Wales skipper Sam Warburton says he believes more players will follow him in penning deals with the governing body.

The openside flanker has signed a three-year contract with the WRU that will take effect once his deal with Cardiff Blues expires this summer.

The Union stated when announcing the move that he would be sent out to play for the Arms Park outfit for free.

But Regional Rugby Wales, the body that represents Newport Gwent Dragons, the Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets, said in a statement that they were "bemused" by the decision to dish out an individual national contract.

"The Regions would also question how one national contract works as a constructive and sustainable strategy for the whole of Welsh rugby given that we have some 200 professional players in Wales contracted to the Regions.

"The Regions are concerned about the impact of this action, the confusion it creates within Welsh Rugby at this time and how it may unsettle the balance of strong and close-knit team environments at the Regions.

"For many months through the proper channels of the PRGB, the regions have attempted to discuss a number of pragmatic options for different contract models with the WRU; as part of a wider structural solution that focuses on delivering sustainable and competitive professional rugby at all levels over the next ten years.

"These proposals had at their core the objective of retaining our Welsh International players and ensuring they trained and played their weekly rugby in Wales.

"The proposals also confirmed that the Regions would only play a centrally contracted player on collective agreement between all four Regions - as part of a complete structural solution for the future of the game in Wales.

"This agreement between the Four Regions was to ensure that any national contract agreement was part of a clear and proper strategy and agreed framework to achieve long-term solutions for player retention in Wales; and guard against any quick fix, ad-hoc action.

"No overall framework has been agreed between the WRU and Regions, so no agreement to play centrally contracted players in the Regions currently exists."

Warburton used his column for Thursday morning's Daily Telegraph to outline his position.

"For me it is a win/win situation. I can train with the Blues and play for them. In that respect everything will be as it is now," he wrote.

"As a national contract player I would be subject to the same call-up rules as any other member of the squad so I cannot see any difference in my rugby routine from now on.

"That is how it will work. It will be similar to how central contracts work in Ireland and New Zealand.

I think central contracts can work, and will work.

"I am sure more Wales players will sign up, and it will become clear that it is not the WRU competing against the regions. It is about everyone working together."

Lock Alun Wyn Jones, though, recently agreed fresh terms with his regional team the Ospreys, turning down a central contract, while Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny opted to sign for reigning European champions Toulon and fly-half Rhys Priestland - thought to be among a handful of current Wales internationals offered central contracts - has yet to decide on his future.

Priestland said: "I would just like to see how things pan out.

"I find it difficult because I don't know all the facts so it's hard to make a fully informed decision.

"The sooner I can sort it out the better. I have spoken to Leigh, Alun and Sam, and they all feel a weight off their shoulders (after deciding their futures).

"I think it would be better if I stayed in Wales, but nothing is set in stone yet."

Comments (4)

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10:25pm Thu 30 Jan 14

DaiFrank says...

'The Regions are concerned about the impact of this action, the confusion it creates within Welsh Rugby at this time and how it may unsettle the balance of strong and close-knit team environments at the Regions.'

A nice diplomatic response. The reality is that the WRU - knowing the regions position on central contracts - are attempting to exclude players from signing with the regions. Warburton may or may not be naive; either way he will have to confront the consequences of his actions. At this time it's not a wise decision on his part. I think the regions have to push even harder now for what they want and all the indications are they are doing exactly that.
'The Regions are concerned about the impact of this action, the confusion it creates within Welsh Rugby at this time and how it may unsettle the balance of strong and close-knit team environments at the Regions.' A nice diplomatic response. The reality is that the WRU - knowing the regions position on central contracts - are attempting to exclude players from signing with the regions. Warburton may or may not be naive; either way he will have to confront the consequences of his actions. At this time it's not a wise decision on his part. I think the regions have to push even harder now for what they want and all the indications are they are doing exactly that. DaiFrank
  • Score: 0

10:30pm Thu 30 Jan 14

DaiFrank says...

....and I want to add that when the new rugby world order emerges and when the regions/clubs gain more control over 'their' affairs all the squabbling over name, colours at RP etc., should come to an end...me included.
....and I want to add that when the new rugby world order emerges and when the regions/clubs gain more control over 'their' affairs all the squabbling over name, colours at RP etc., should come to an end...me included. DaiFrank
  • Score: 1

12:04pm Fri 31 Jan 14

countyjim says...

Said it before genuine question for all Rugby fans why aren't the clubs regions mind set towards the greater good the Welsh Team

In County Cricket where they have central contracts for years even Glamorgan players over the years the end game is to back the ECB and the England test side

Im not a rugby fan but love cricket seems common sense to me the Country comes first but why in Rugby is this not the case

Answers on a postcard please
Said it before genuine question for all Rugby fans why aren't the clubs regions mind set towards the greater good the Welsh Team In County Cricket where they have central contracts for years even Glamorgan players over the years the end game is to back the ECB and the England test side Im not a rugby fan but love cricket seems common sense to me the Country comes first but why in Rugby is this not the case Answers on a postcard please countyjim
  • Score: 1

11:54pm Sat 1 Feb 14

SWBorderer says...

Central contracts are not a problem as long as it is for everyone not just one player.
Roger Lewis is just using Sam to try and drive a wedge between the regions, he has no interest in the best interests of the player or the regions, he just wants to be in charge of everything.
I await the statement from the regions on Monday, but if they break away from the WRU we will have the farcical situation where players who play for the regions will not be able to play for Wales. Yet financially the regions have to go for the most lucrative deal and with the WRU offering nothing there seems to be little option.
l really is looking like the death throws of rugby in Wales.
Central contracts are not a problem as long as it is for everyone not just one player. Roger Lewis is just using Sam to try and drive a wedge between the regions, he has no interest in the best interests of the player or the regions, he just wants to be in charge of everything. I await the statement from the regions on Monday, but if they break away from the WRU we will have the farcical situation where players who play for the regions will not be able to play for Wales. Yet financially the regions have to go for the most lucrative deal and with the WRU offering nothing there seems to be little option. l really is looking like the death throws of rugby in Wales. SWBorderer
  • Score: 0

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