THE regions have adopted a phalanx formation this summer, shields tightly together and spears out in their spat with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Yet Adam Jones' sudden move from the Ospreys to Cardiff Blues has highlighted the challenges of the quartet staying united while at the same time being rivals.

When the Lions tighthead was pictured in a team photo at BT Sport Arms Park on Tuesday a statement swiftly followed from the Liberty Stadium.

They were clearly miffed, so much so that they forgot to thank Jones for 11 years of sterling service. Hopefully that was just an oversight.

The Ospreys aren't just angry at the Blues, they are irritated by those next door to the Arms Park.

The 95-times capped prop could well have signed up for another spell in Swansea were it not for a tempting offer of a central contract with the Welsh Rugby Union.

In the end the unconditional offers of 2012 and 2013 were followed by a deal that was dependant on the regions penning a fresh accord with the governing body.

It is the timing of Jones' move that is the problem – the Welsh quartet have grown closer because of their discontent with the WRU, enabling them all to profit from a sponsorship deal with BT Sport and to be shareholders in the new European tournaments.

An 'all for one, one for all' approach is fine for those that wear a shirt and tie but harder to adopt by those that don tracksuits.

There has previously been an unwritten rule that regions will not gazump rivals that are in contract negotiations. It was seen as a way of avoiding being played off against each other for individuals that want to stay in Wales.

That is somewhat naive in professional sport when an agent's job is to look after their client and get them the best deal possible.

They are in contact with all four teams in Wales and if a coach is told on the QT that there is the possibility of signing a player who would improve their XV then they won't care about whether he is coming from Newport or Newcastle, Llanelli or Leicester.

There will have been plenty of Newport Gwent Dragons supporters smirking at the Ospreys' Jones angst after previously seeing Ian Gough, Joe Bearman and Richard Fussell head west for a 'new challenge'.

There is always going to be movement between the regions given that swapping the Scarlets out west for the Dragons in the east doesn't demand upheaval.

It's happened in the past and need not necessitate a breakdown in relations at boardroom level.

Perhaps we can no longer be so precious about 'our' players – if a region cannot secure a player on a long-term deal then they are fair game for the other three.

And when Luke Charteris and Dan Lydiate decide to return from France it shouldn't be expected that Rodney Parade is their only destination.

With Bristol, Bath and Gloucester a commute away, the regions shouldn't be particularly worried about their three rivals/colleagues providing a little bit of extra competition.

They should mirror football's shrewd operators; if you value an asset then they should be pinned down on a long-term deal before their contract enters its final year.

But regardless of player movement between regions the quartet need to stick together in order to enhance their negotiating power, as their Aviva Premiership and Top 14 foes have shown.