ON the opening weekend of the Top 14 season Irish fly-half Jonny Sexton lined up alongside Luke Charteris at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir in Montpellier.

The lock was making his debut for Racing Metro after penning a two-year deal with the Parisians following Perpignan's relegation. It looks likely that only half of that contract will be spent providing ball for the Lions number 10.

After being tempted away from Leinster by the big chequebook of Jacky Lorenzetti in 2012 the 29-year-old playmaker is poised to return to Dublin.

IRFU have moved to bring Sexton home, an option that was not available to Charteris, much to his frustration.

The spat between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions over a fresh participation agreement is nearing a conclusion but the damage has been done.

The coming campaign promises to be a challenging one for the quartet and it may not be until next year's World Cup is done and dusted until things really start to look up in Wales.

Even then the relationship between the governing body and Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Scarlets will need to be more trusting if there are to be more unsightly squabbles.

Part of the fresh accord will see £3.3million set aside for dual contracts – not a new concept in Wales and more a top-up than central contracts – with the governing body picking up 60 per cent of the bill.

Taulupe Faletau is earmarked for a deal along with Alun Wyn Jones, Gareth Anscombe, Alex Cuthbert, Ken Owens, Dan Biggar, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Williams and Liam Williams.

The accord has come too late to keep Richard Hibbard or Jonathan Davies in the country and it will be interesting to see what happens over the coming months as contract negotiations intensify.

The aim must be to bring back Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts, George North & Co, just like serious moves could have been made to snap up Charteris.