The WRU started the day with yet another statement in the on –going battle with the regions which now seems to mainly be focusing over player retention. They state they will invite the four regions to meet with the WRU to discuss the issue of central contracts as well as previously agreed topics. They stated:
The WRU will table, in advance of the meeting, a range of detailed options to be discussed, in addition to those already proposed, so that the four regional organisations are fully prepared to take part in a meaningful debate.
Now the words in bold you can only assume are those agreed topics and agendas set for the Professional Rugby Game Board (PRGB) to discuss.
In the statements released over the weekend both sides accused the other of raising sticking points from preventing the PRGB meetings going ahead. You can only surmise from these comments from the WRU, with their inclination to add in extra issues, that it was perhaps they who had the bigger issue with the PRGB agenda which has resulted in it stalling.
As has been proven in the past, the regions and WRU are incapable of negotiating in a quick and sensible fashion, therefore an independent chair is absolutely essential in these circumstances. That is exactly what the PRGB would bring and is exactly what the PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC) report suggested had to happen. It seems baffling therefore that the WRU would seemingly look to go against the findings of a report that they commissioned themselves.
Looking further within the PWC report, or the limited findings that have actually been released from it, one of the things they considered for Welsh rugby was central contracts. It was also one of the things they dismissed as not being workable as it does not address the structural funding gap. Again this does not seem to be something the WRU is willing to acknowledge.
It would appear, just as in October, the regions are unwilling to discuss central contracts with the WRU for numerous reasons. Trust has been broken with the attack sent the regions way in the press is one and the WRU’s refusal to change their view on discussing funding is another.
Instead it would seem that the regions have now made a request of their own to speak directly to the full board of the WRU as commented upon in an article from The Guardian here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/apr/01/george-north-welsh-rugby-union-wales-regions . It has sprung from their worries about wanting the board to know their full concerns and what their position is. They also appear to still be determined to continue with the PRGB.
It is time for the WRU to redress their position on this. There is the possibility of the perfect forum for both sides in this argument to meet and discuss their concerns with an agenda already drawn up – that is the PRGB. The WRU should look to meet with the regions there instead of trying to enforce their own agenda onto the regions as their latest statement appears to suggest. If that is not the case from a WRU standpoint then it makes their latest statement even more difficult to understand.