THE Welsh Rugby Union and Regional Rugby Wales have ended their long-running dispute by signing a new six-year agreement.
The two sides have been negotiating for several years and have finally agreed a replacement for the participation agreement, which expired at the end of June.
The Rugby Services Agreement is worth over £60million and sees core funding to Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues remain at £6.7million per year.
An additional sum of £3.3million has been set aside for dual contracts – with the governing body contribution 60 per cent – while the quartet have received a one-off payment of £500,00 each.
The new RSA will be monitored and managed by the Professional Regional Game Board, which was supposed to be set up in December 2012. It will be chaired by judge Sir Wyn Williams, who will have the casting vote.
Other details include:
- The potential introduction of ‘Gatland’s Law’ which will mean players have to play in Wales to be selected for the Test team
- The national head coach will decide which players will be offered dual contracts and if they accept then they will come WRU employees.
- The transfer of responsibility for the four academies from the WRU to the regions, with £600,000 of support from the governing body
- A limit of six foreign players per region, plus two ‘time-servers’
- Up to 13 Tests per year, including a fourth autumn international
- The return of Wales A with a possible fixture on the weekend before the Six Nations
- Support for sevens with up to three players from each region available for Wales selection
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis said: "It has taken us a long time to reach the conclusion of our negotiations, but that is because of the complicated structure and radical nature of the deal which matches financial distributions with deliverable rugby priorities.
"The Regions are a vitally important component of the structure of Welsh rugby and they have to be able to thrive and develop for the game in Wales to remain successful.
“We now have an agreement which will ensure the pyramid structure which leads from the grassroots right through to the international team is strong and truly fit for purpose.”
Regional Rugby Wales chairman Nigel Short said: "With greater clarity and the security of a new agreement, the Regions can forward plan with more focus, working hard to ensure their independent businesses remain competitive.
“Things will not change overnight – but securing our new agreement in partnership is a positive forward step.
“Clear mutual goals now form the basis of a new agreement that will create a stronger and more productive environment, where our interests are more closely aligned and a thriving domestic game that feeds into the long-term success of the Welsh international rugby.”