CHRIS KIRWAN: Tough to talk when there is a lack of trust in battle between regions and WRU
9:01am Thursday 9th January 2014 in Sport
IT'S good to talk, apparently.
But when it comes to the spat between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions one wonders whether a compromise is really what it needed.
If a deal is struck with Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets then it may be a wasted opportunity to take strides, instead continuing with a flawed system and the much-maligned Pro12.
Supporters backed their teams by protesting at the festive derbies and using the hashtag #uniteandfight on Twitter... yet they are fighting for different things.
There are those that seem to be happy with the set-up but just want there to be more funding for the regions – who say they can get an extra £12million in the Rugby Champions Cup – to help try and stop the player drain to England and France.
Then there are those that want to go for it; they don't want compromise.
They don't want to be locked in to the RaboDirect Pro12 and they don't want the regional set-up to continue.
The dream scenario for them – and it is a pretty attractive one – is for Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli to be in an Anglo-Welsh league.
The Dragons have always been a mishmash, trying to represent the whole of Gwent while having a core of Newport support and backing. Maybe it would be easier to be in black and amber and to stop courting those that harbour resentment?
Proper encounters with Bath, Leicester, Gloucester, Northampton, Saracens, Exeter, Harlequins and London Irish would be magnificent but a courtroom battle would need to be won first.
However, Regional Rugby Wales have stated that their Plan A is to remain with the Welsh Rugby Union but for them to give them more of a chance to generate their own income, as they state they have done with the RCC.
The whole saga has been ugly with the regions battling the union with the players caught in the crossfire and the clubs brought into the spat.
They received a letter from the WRU outlining its version of events after the regions failed to meet the December 31 deadline for a new five-year participation agreement.
It's slightly bizarre that some amateur clubs that have been struggling to fulfil fixtures because of lack of numbers have been brought into the quarrel about the professional game.
Nonetheless, the main parties are the regions and WRU and there is clearly no trust.
The Union don't trust the regions to run their businesses properly and want to take control, as was stated by chief executive Roger Lewis when he hinted just over a year ago that they could cut the number from four to three.
"The Welsh Rugby Union has to take a far greater responsibility and therefore control over professional rugby within Wales," he said in the Sunday Times.
"This is no criticism of the regions; this is merely my view. A successful Wales playing at the Millennium Stadium drives rugby."
But the presence of Lewis at the helm is clearly a problem for the regions.
"There is no appetite for the regions to work with Roger Lewis. We have no confidence in him," said Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas in the Rugby Paper.
"His agenda is to destroy the regions and take complete control. Unfortunately for him, he has picked a fight with the wrong guys. As far as the regions are concerned, there's no turning back."
While Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies said on January 1: "I would ask the directors of the Welsh Rugby Union when they meet over the next month or so, hand on heart do they actually agree with what is going on?"
The time for talking and getting around the table was a long time ago.
The ERC put their fingers in ears when the English and French raised concerns way back in 2012 while the Union ignored the concerns of the regions by initially offering a new participation agreement that had the same terms as those from 2009.
It's time for action but one fears that all we will get is a settlement where both side claim to have won when in truth nobody has.
JUST last year chairman David Pickering said that he would not "bankrupt" the Welsh Rugby Union in order to stop the player drain, yet the subject of central contracts still crops up as a possible solution.
There simply isn't enough money available to keep the likes of Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones and their international teammates in Wales while at the same time penning deals with the next crop of talent.
The answer is increasing revenue rather than musing about how the current pot is spent.
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