toxic

A toxic relationship

There’s been an enormous amount of online discussion following last night’s BBC ScrumV Special . In fact, the “scrumv” hashtag and “Roger Lewis” were both in the top ten UK trending topics on Twitter at one point yesterday evening. As someone who was at the recording of the programme, I thought it might be useful to give my impressions of how it went in the studio, and also how it looked to people watching on TV. These two impressions are quite different.

The fact is that those of us who are interested in the current crisis in Welsh rugby (and it is a crisis, in spite of what Roger Lewis seems to believe) have been mostly living off scraps of information in the Welsh media relating to the issues. Gwladrugby is a notable exception to this, of course. Our analysis has become the one of the definitive sources in recent weeks.

Therefore, many of us were relieved last week when we heard the announcement that BBC Wales were planning a ScrumV Special, with an invited audience and a panel representing the key players in the debate. Our immediate thoughts turned to the likely composition of the panel. Would Roger Lewis or David Pickering put themselves forward? Who would represent the fans? Who would represent the regions? Would we be able to directly question the panel?

Some of these questions had been answered by the time we arrived at BBC Wales at 10am yesterday. Some, but not all. It was still unclear who the WRU representative was going to be, but we did know that former Chief Executive and self-proclaimed saviour of Welsh rugby, David Moffett would be there, albeit in the audience rather than on the panel.

In the days leading up to the recording, some information had trickled out regarding who was going to be there. We knew Dragons CEO Gareth Davies would be, and Martyn Thomas, former chief of the RFU. There were mutterings that Paul Rees, the Guardian rugby writer who has done some sterling work in uncovering the details of this sorry affair, would be on the panel. But even as the clock ticked past the planned start time of 10.30am, there was still no word on who the WRU representative would be.

Finally, at 11am, we heard the news that WRU CEO Roger Lewis had decided to attend. At this point many of us had been drinking BBC coffee for over an hour. The atmosphere in the room was tense. Bladders were close to bursting point.

Eventually at 11.15am, 45 minutes late, we were called into the studio. No reason was given for the delay, but several people were convinced that one of the panellists had only just arrived.

For those of you familiar with the BBC studios in Llandaf, the recording took place in studio C1, the former site of the Pobol y Cwm set. A fitting location for a scene from another very Welsh drama to be played out.

As we made our way to our seats, we spotted David Moffett on the front row, chewing his fingernails. Several members of the audience were being miked up, as the producers planned to come to them for comments during the debate. There were also boom mic operators standing at either side of the seating, presumably there to capture questions from the audience.

On the stage, there were five empty chairs. One for presenter Gareth Lewis, the other for the four panellists. After some sound checks and some house rules from the floor manager, the panel filed in and were introduced to the audience one by one. Three of the panellists made their way quietly to their seats on the stage. But Roger Lewis strode across the room, waving and smiling at a number of audience members. He was clutching a leather folder brimming with notes and a spiral bound document, which we were later to discover was the fabled PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report concerning Welsh rugby finances.

I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow description of the debate which followed. You can see most of it on BBC iPlayer. The programme was recorded “as live”, but there were several exchanges which failed to make the version which went to air.

At one point, during a particularly lively exchange between presenter Gareth Lewis (GL) and Roger Lewis (RL), GL asked RL for his reaction to Peter Thomas’ claim that Regional Rugby Wales (RRW) have “no confidence” in RL. RL’s response to this was the decidedly evasive, “I had coffee with Gareth [Davies] last Thursday.” This exchange was not broadcast.

At several points during the debate when RL was speaking, the audience reacted with jeers and cries of “answer the question!” We had been told we could express our reactions to the discussion, and so we did. At one point, after a succession of questions regarding whether he had made plans to set up new regions, RL responded that he had not. The audience erupted into loud jeers of derision. This reaction is not audible on the broadcast. There may be technical reasons for this, but the fact remains that for large parts of the debate, the audience were loudly expressing derision at much of what RL said.

Another important point to make about the programme is the involvement (or lack of it) of the audience. The show had been set up in a “Question Time” format, and we had been asked to submit questions in the days leading up to it.

When we got into the studio, it was clear that the producers had already decided who would be contributing, and these people had been miked up. These included, David Moffett, a lawyer, a representative of the four Regional Supporters Clubs, and Mark Davies, CEO of the Scarlets. In fact, the boom mic operators might as well have spent the morning at home in bed, for all the use they were. The only spontaneous intervention came from a member of Cross Keys RFC, who spoke in support of RL. At no point were the dozens of regional fans in the room invited to ask a question. Furthermore, there were several occasions where fans put their hands up in response to something one of the panel had said, and they were ignored.

You might say that I’m being naïve in expecting a full and frank debate. But that was what we were led to believe it would be. I can understand why someone who has been under siege as much as RL has would want to carefully control the question topics. However, the BBC are always banging on about balance. I would say, where were the voices of the fans on yesterday’s programme? How’s that for balance? The inclusion of Martyn Thomas was a complete waste of time. He is a largely-discredited has-been; the Nigel Farage of English rugby. As Brian Moore put it on Twitter, the only reason he could think of including Thomas was that the debate was about maladministration. Make of that what you will.

At one point GL asked RL whether he was happy with the way in which he’d conducted himself during this affair. That would’ve been the point to ask him about BBC 5 Live presenter Alastair Eykyn’s claims that RL and Warren Gatland had been badgering Alun-Wyn Jones on a “daily basis”, trying to get the Ospreys player to sign a central contract.  That’s a question I’d have liked to have asked RL, if I’d been given the chance.

I realise I’ve gone on about this quite a lot already. But before I stop, there are a couple of other impressions I took away from yesterday’s programme.

The first one is that Roger Lewis got very bad tempered when he was asked about central contracts and his plans for what happens if the regions walk away. He also waved the PWC report around a lot to make his points. If the report is so marvellous, why doesn’t he publish it?

The second clear impression which came out yesterday is that the relationship between Roger Lewis and RRW is toxic. It’s a word David Moffett used, and he’s right. There are a couple of moments where Gareth Davies visibly winces in response to the things Roger Lewis is saying. There is never going to be a deal between RRW and Roger Lewis, because the relationship is irrevocably broken. That means that this thing is going to court, and a judge will decide the future of Welsh and probably European rugby.

 

 

 

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Assembly members call for review of WRU governance

The BBC are emphasising First Minister Carwyn Jones’ offer to mediate between the WRU and the Regions in their ongoing bitter dispute over the future of our professional game.

However, the real story of today’s debate in the Senedd is that opposition AMs were united in a call for a thorough, independent review of the governance of the WRU. That piece of information, which should make very uncomfortable reading for WRU CEO Roger Lewis, is buried in the BBC piece, several paragraphs down.

Unlike the First Minister who only turned up for the last five minutes, I was in the Senedd to listen to all of today’s debate. I was horrified by the lack of knowledge of the basic issues displayed by most of the Assembly members who spoke. However, one AM had clearly done her homework.

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Bethan Jenkins of Plaid Cymru had taken the time to speak to all the parties involved: the WRU, the regions and the supporters.  She had clearly done her research and returned to her theme of governance several times during the debate.

The rest of the speakers spent most of their allocated slots either reminiscing about watching rugby, or expressing their heartfelt – albeit bleeding obvious – hope that the WRU and RRW could come to an agreement for the benefit of Welsh rugby as a whole. Blah blah blah. Other AMs, on the whole, contributed the sum total of nothing to the debate.

Mike Hedges (Labour) rambled through a confused rant against the regions, citing recent match results as reason to look at an alternative.  What Hedges and his ilk fail to recognise is that the regions have been very successful in the Celtic League and Anglo-Welsh cup. Their contribution to the last eight years of unprecedented success of the national side should be obvious to anyone who understands how professional sport works.

What is most worrying is that we allow our elected representatives to debate important issues like this without many of them appearing to have done any research whatsoever.

 

 

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The Curious Incident of the Lapdogs in the Night-time

The continued media silence in Wales over the Alastair Eykyn story about the WRU’s undermining of Alun-Wyn Jones’ status with the Ospreys and ongoing ‘harassment’ of a RRW employee on an ‘almost daily’ basis would, in ordinary circumstances, be one of the most curious developments in an extremely curious affair. However, when it comes to the Western Mail and BBC Wales, it seems less like the curious incident of the dog in the night time and more like the curious incident of the lapdog.

The first time I had a decidedly ominous feeling about the rigour and fullness of Welsh media coverage of the dispute came last year when, in the coverage of a RRW press conference criticising the frustration of the PRGB, regional ire was directed at Westgate Street. “I sum it up with the words power, control, divide, conquer, wipe-out,” said Peter Thomas. “That is the agenda for certain people across the way.”

Now, the first inkling for consumers of Welsh media that these incendiary sentiments existed would have occurred on the twelfth of never. These remarks were simply unreported, despite the fact that these were easily the most headline-friendly comments in the whole press conference. They were reported in the Guardian and were found nestled in an unedited youtube clip of the press conference available on regional websites but, ultimately, the Welsh media declined to report them, let alone lead with them.

Of course, one instance can be attributed to editorial prerogative as to what is newsworthy or journalistic incompetence, with the latter in no short supply in the Welsh media. However, since then, a pattern of omission has emerged which means that it is no longer feasible to construe missing the power-control-divide-conquer-wipeout story as the isolated missing of an open goal.

Thomas was at it again in the Rugby Paper from the 5th January, in which he ventured the opinion that: “There is a desire within the regions to work with the WRU but there is no appetite from the regions to work with Roger Lewis. We have no confidence in him.”

Again, perhaps the most headline-friendly and incendiary comment of the entire affair went unreported. In light of this, perhaps it was unsurprising that the Welsh media would also decline to publish the other claims in the report, namely that the WRU has been conspiring to centrally contract Welsh players and play them in England.

But hey, perhaps they didn’t get the Rugby Paper delivered that week. And perhaps it’s a co-incidence that renowned Welsh rugby expert and intellectual giant Jeff Probyn was invited to air his views on Radio Wales a day after espousing pro-WRU sentiments in that very same edition of the Rugby Paper.

Unfortunately, it seems that the reticence epidemic is spreading. The WRU declined to invite any members of the press to their pre-6N squad naming today, preferring to retreat behind the inviolability of an email to the media corps.

Given the furious criticism the regions received from luminaries of the Welsh media (such as Andy Howell, the man who looks like Alexander Pope but doesn’t write like Alexander Pope) for having the temerity not to include their superstar players in a pre-Christmas joint press conference, the decision of the WRU to soft-sell the upcoming Six Nations with a letter from the table of the Politburo will surely attract the most frightful savaging in the Welsh media. Right?

Or, ‘food for thought?’ as per the parlance of Welsh media’s most fearless little lapdog.

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Welsh rugby crisis reaches Cardiff Bay! AMs to debate Regional Row!

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Talking shop (Photo: Gavin Lewis )

Next Wednesday, 15th January, the National Assembly will be conducting a debate on the subject of the current crisis in Welsh rugby:

The full text of the motion is as follows:

NDM5397 William Graham (South Wales East)

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales

1. Notes recent Welsh international rugby successes and the importance of rugby to the culture and economy of Wales.

2. Notes the current discussions between the WRU and Regional Rugby Wales regarding the future of Welsh rugby and recognises the importance of developing and maintaining a strong grassroots and regional structure to enable the sport to develop and thrive throughout Wales.

3. Believes that a strong platform for Welsh rugby requires national and regional bodies and clubs to work together constructively to create a strong financial footing for the future well-being of the sport and hopes for a timely resolution to current negotiations.

It’s vital that we show the politicians how seriously they need to be taking this issue. We can do this by turning up for the debate and watching from the public gallery. You can book tickets for this by completing the online booking form.

schoolgirlfight

David Moffett: My reasons for seeking a WRU Board position

In a Gwladrugby exclusive, former Welsh Rugby Union Chief Executive David Moffett reveals the reasons behind his decision to return to Welsh Rugby.

I guess there will be a lot of readers wondering why I have chosen this time to seek a return to the hurly burly of Welsh Rugby.

The catalyst has been the latest imbroglio between the WRU and the regions. It is my firm opinion that there is no respect or trust between both parties. This situation has existed for many years now. Indeed there is scarcely a year goes by without a stoush of some kind and the inevitable threat of litigation.

This has simply got to stop and stop now. There is no one in the world who thinks that the actions of the WRU or the regions is acting in the best interests of Welsh Rugby.

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!
YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!

Putting aside the real facts for one minute and considering the whole picture, this type of behaviour reflects very badly on Welsh Rugby and indeed affects the wider Welsh community. After all rugby is the National sport.

The current behaviour of both parties is less than professional and must make the players, both professional and amateur squirm with embarrassment. Remember the WRU exists to encourage and foster participation in the game at all levels. How can anyone say that this latest shambles is contributing to that purpose?

Because of the strategies that I implemented as CEO with the assistance of the Board, Wales has had its most successful decade in its history. This has happened both on and off the field. The introduction of regions and the restructuring of the debt whilst I was CEO have had a profoundly positive effect on the fortunes of Welsh Rugby. That these gains are now in jeopardy says a lot about the current administration.

Instead of all this fighting and bickering the WRU should be basking in the glory of being current 6 Nations champions and providing the bulk of Lions who defeated Australia. But No! Here we go again and it must stop.

How can we best achieve the stability Welsh rugby deserves?

That answer lies with the member clubs, the owners of Welsh Rugby. I believe the clubs have been treated quite shabbily in recent years. They have never been consulted on major issues and they have struggled financially. That is not how shareholders should be treated.

The clubs elect a board who elect a Chairman. This should be enough to protect their interests. The board then selects a CEO. This system largely renders the executive irrelevant in the politics of the game. The Board sets policy and the executive executes it or that is what should happen.

My firm belief is that the clubs should call an EGM to ask the WRU and Regions a series of questions aimed at getting a better understanding as to how Welsh rugby has engineered such a mind numbing dispute. Only then can they make up their mind as to what should happen next. They and only they have the power to set the pathway for the future of Welsh rugby. I think the time for them to exercise that power has arrived.

So, what can I add? Here are a few attributes but by no means exhaustive.

  • A track record of unprecedented success with Welsh Rugby.
  • An unshakeable view that the clubs own the WRU.
  • An understanding and adherence to good governance
  • An inclusive, inspiring and motivating personality.
  • An absolute gutsful of the continued fighting and bickering

I will be back in Wales next week to start my campaign for election to the board and will provide regular updates on the Gwladrugby blog.

 

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Minutes of the Joint Supporters Group meeting with the Welsh Rugby Union 16th December 2013

Minutes of the Joint Supporters Group meeting with the Welsh Rugby Union
Monday 16th December
Millennium Stadium, 5pm

Attendees:
Jon Sheppard and Joe Crocker from FoNR
Annette Thomas and Mike Phippen from OSC
Dorian Davies, Barrie Jones and Neil Bathgate from CRYS 16
Sarah Hopkins, Catherine Smart and Sue Barter from CBSC
Roger Lewis, David Pickering, Warren Gatland and Steve Phillips from WRU

Minutes:

All present introduced themselves to each other.
RL Welcomed everyone to the Millennium Stadium, and thanked them all for coming.
RL said that he could not disclose any information that he would deem confidential and that the previous request for a meeting had been declined as the WRU felt it inappropriate as discussions were on-going at that time.

NB said that the group felt now was the time to discuss the situation with the Regions and the WRU as we are now six months further down the line since the original meeting request.

RL stated that it is rugby that comes first not vested “business” interests.

SH thanked the WRU representatives for the meeting us this evening and explained that she had been asked to lead the meeting from the supporters perspective, then read an introductory statement prepared by the supporters which would be followed by some key questions and read as follows:
Cardiff Blues Supporters’ Club CRYS 16 Friends of Newport Rugby Ospreys Supporters’ Club
The reason we requested a meeting earlier this year was because the crossroads we currently find ourselves at has been inevitable for some time and we wanted to air supporters’ views to the Union whilst there was still time for them to be considered but what’s happened has happened, and we need to move forward. and whilst late in the day, we are pleased to be able to represent the views of those who support regional, club and mini rugby week in week out in Wales.

We assume you have seen our joint statement as that is what prompted the meeting this evening so we don’t propose to read through that but needless to say – we are extremely concerned that the WRU is not acting in the best interests of the game as is often stated. We accept that Team Wales has been successful over recent years, but that is just one aspect of the game in Wales. We strongly feel that the time has come to make decisions that will protect the future of the game in our country or the current Welsh Rugby Union regime will forever be known as those that to all intents and purposes signed the death warrant of professional rugby in Wales.

We want to see a sustainable, professional Regional Structure, working with and developing players for teamTeam Wales.. and retaining our best players within our regions.

We are investors in the game that invest more than money – we invest considerable time in supporting our teams and the fact that you have threatened to take them away from us if they ‘don’t play ball’ is completely unacceptable to us. This is our leisure time, our family time that you are impacting ….

She went on to say that we are mandated as a group to represent our members and a supporter group of 15,000 Season Ticket Holders and many more match day attendees.

RL said that he absolutely refuted the comments that (a) the WRU are not acting in the best interests of the game stating “throughout the whole history of rugby we have acted in its best interest…..it has been our mantra”.” and (b) signed the death warrant of professional rugby in Wales.

RL said that he has not seen the statement which was referred to and SH explained that it was released to members and other supporters at the end of the previous week. RL asked if it has been sent directly to the WRU and she said that it had not, but that she had received a phone call from the WRU press team that day and had assumed that this was why the meeting with RL had been called. RL reconfirmed that he had not seen the statement.

RL asked whether the supporters’ groups had met with Regional Chairmen and Chief Executives. All confirmed that there is regular contact.

RL explained that the Regions have until 31/12/13 to “elect to continue or not” with the Participation Agreement. He stated that the Regions had signed in effect a 10 year contract in 2009 and that there was a break clause in at the end of 2013 (after the 1st 5 Years) solely for the option of the Regions and they alone could elect to continue with the PA from 1 July 2014 or not.

SP advised that the WRU’s business plan was, and always has been, based on the 10 year Participation Agreement signed in 2009 and changing the terms wasn’t an option.
In response to why the star players are leaving Wales, it was stated that the WRU had offered to sign the players that were coming out of contract whilst there was uncertainty regarding the European competitions that would be played in, then assign them back to the relevant Regions (with no conditions attached), but the Regions had refused this.

RL explained the make up and constitution of the WRU, referencing 320 member clubs and our 40,000 playing members etc, but SH confirmed that supporters were already aware of this. These 320 clubs who ultimately control all of Welsh rugby, and make up the WRU. RL said also that the Regions had not always sent representatives to WRU AGMs and other meetings with the Clubs.

The regions have had representation in the Rabo Direct League and on the ERC Committee for many years, up to Stuart Gallacher’s recent resignation last week and that they really still should have a representative there.

NB questioned whether if RL felt there was real value in them attending the WRU AGMs and meetings and if RL had directly communicated this to them and RL advised that he felt there was value in the Regions attending the meeting but he hadn’t directly communicated this to them as they are aware of the meetings and that they are able to attend. The WRU had written to the Regions and all Member clubs inviting them to the AGM, as they have done every year.

RL went on to say that the latest RRW statement (regarding, amongst others, the TV revenues) was, at a minimum, misleading. and contained confidential information which should not have been disclosed. He stated that it was not the WRU or himself that negotiated TV deals but Celtic League Ltd and ERC Ltd, of which the Regions had been party to. There were further meetings later this week to discuss ERC payments. The existing agreements had been agreed to by the Regions, they have never previously raised the points set out in their statement at an ERC Board meeting and it wasn’t as simple as them just walking away.

In response to the information contained in the RRW statement, when asked further about the alleged unequal distribution of funds which was in favour of Scotland and Italy on a per team basis in Europe – RL confirmed that the funding received was not equal and that the WRU were aware of this issue and that the Regions had always accepted and agreed to them.
However, neither was it favourable to the English and French clubs in Europe as it applied to Wales on the same basis but it was very much in favour of Wales in the Rabo League.

SH asked RL to clarify what the Regions were being asked to participate in under the Participation Agreement and he stated that it was (as currently stood) a European competition which was supported by the five participating nations and the Rabo League, which he felt offered the financial stability that the regions were looking for. He said that further discussions were taking place on 20th December where they hoped that the English clubs would reconsider and rejoin the competition, making it the six nations again.

NB asked whether the WRU would consider extending the deadline for the PA until the regions knew exactly what the situation was in Europe and RL confirmed they were hopeful that this would be resolved next week but ultimately as there is a commitment from 5 unions to provide teams for the competition there wouldn’t be an option to extend the deadline for the PA until a more detailed make up of the teams competing is known.

As to WRU income, BJ asked why there was seemingly no prospect of income growing over the coming years with the PA being only index linked and it was stated that this was unknown. SP replied that the WRU income had grown significantly over the last six years which had allowed the player release monies in 2008 to be increased from £3.6m to £6.6m today; as to further similar growth, it was stated that this was unlikely at the present time.

AT referred to the TV deal that had been announced by the Aviva Premiership with BT Sport and stated that it would seem financially beneficial to join this league.

SH asked whether or not the WRU were supportive of the establishment of an Anglo Welsh league. WG answered saying that personally he honestly felt it would be good for him (although selfishly) in respect of players and exposure to a superior level of games however he is not sure what the “long term” effect would be in respect of the impact on others in the six countries in terms of a downward spiral. SP highlighted that this supposed participation had only come about because the English clubs had chosen to exclude themselves from Europe from next year RL explained that he had proposed a British and Irish league last year to PRL alongside a deal with BT but this was rejected by PRL. SP said that the impact of the withdrawal of the English Clubs from the ERC had left them with six weekends a season to fill and therefore they suddenly want Welsh involvement.

JS asked why the WRU would not support the Regions in considering joining the Aviva, if the Regions believed it financially beneficial, particularly as the WRU are always pressing the Regions to generate more income for themselves. RL said that this was due to the difficulty in breaking existing contractual commitments agreed by all parties, including the Regions.

DD asked why the WRU had not taken up an offer to be part of the discussions around the establishment of an Anglo Welsh League and RL said he had not been asked to attend such a meeting SH asked whether the WRU were therefore not supportive of an Anglo Welsh League to which RL stated that this was a point for the Regions to consider the serious implications of breaking the existing contracts.

NB asked if the Regions could negotiate themselves out of their current obligations with the Union’s assistance whether the Union would support a move towards an Anglo Welsh league and RL advised that it was too hypothetical a question to answer.

NB asked what the contingency plan was for the WRU if the Regions did not sign the PA as they needed professional teams to fulfil their contractual obligations to competitions, RL stated that there had been no public discussions about this, although SP acknowledged that they needed to have these discussions and consider their options in the New Year should the Regions not choose to sign.

DD asked about the reports of the WRU telling players not to sign new contracts with the Regions. WG said that this was a ‘complete and utter lie’ and that legal advice had been sought as this was defamatory. RL, DP and SP fully supported WG’s statement. WG went on to say that he had personally encouraged the six players linked to the additional £1m to sign for their Regions and that he was unhappy that some had chosen to go elsewhere. He stated that he understood that Adam Jones has not been offered a contract by the Ospreys.

WG said that he had been told by players that the reason they were looking elsewhere was not money driven but relating to the quality of some coaching and support staff at the Regions as well as facilities. He felt that the additional £1m could be spent on more quality coaches and not individual players.

NB stated in his opinion that even if the £1m came to fruition it would effectively be a drop in the ocean and have little effect on the player drain to France and England as they will continue to pull ahead leaving the Regions facing an even greater battle for survival. RL said that there was a lot the Regions could do to help themselves to make themselves more competitive and made reference to some of the comments in the PWC report. SP added that the £1m could not be considered in isolation but only in the context of the existing £16m.

RL said that the Regions should use WG and his team more often for coaching advice.

RL said that whilst it was recognised that the Wales team, in return for the player release payment, were effectively using and then returning someone else’s assets – and whilst players were with the Welsh set up there were benefiting from enhancements to their skills, conditioning, mindset etc before being released back to their Regions.

SH asked why the WRU deemed it reasonable to consistently have a 4th Autumn International when it left the Regions with less than 7 days to prepare for crucial European games. RL said that this was for two reasons – firstly, WG’s vision that Wales needed to play the best teams in the world which was why Australia had been added this year, and secondly as a response to the Regions asking for more funding – this is partly what the WRU pay for.

SP said that the inequality in payments to the Regions for the Wales players was a result of the Regions rejecting an offer to distribute funds based on the number of players in the Wales squad; he added that it made far more sense to him if it was done on a pure player release basis. SP went on to point out that the WRU set aside some £6.6m for player release but he understood that less than £5.0m was spent on the current National Squad – this, of course, did not help with players leaving their Regions.

NB asked again about the retention of players in Wales, and the possibility of instigating ‘Gatland’s Law’, WG said that it could be applied in future, but only with assurances that the players would be financially protected, and that they were not taken advantage of by the Regions, and that those already playing abroad were not penalised.

DP stated that he wants the Regions to sign the PA which will give stability and suggested that supporters put some pertinent questions to the Regions, about their management. RL said that the Regions were not taking financial responsibility and maximising their income via marketing, sales and joint sponsorship deals (with the exception of the recently announced Dominos pizza deal). SP said that his financial projections suggested that the Regions had to be pulling in regular gates of up to 12,000 each to make them sustainable.

WG said that Stuart Lancaster was ‘gutted’ that the English clubs had pulled out of the Heineken Cup due to the lack of quality of opposition for them.

NB asked that the WRU meet again with the supporters representatives and RL said he would be delighted to meet in the New Year.

SP asked the supporters’ representatives to please keep the discussions confidential and SH confirmed that as stated at the start of the meeting the supporters representatives have a responsibility to their members and the intention was to provide a full update post the meeting. She stated that a copy of the minutes would be send to the WRU in advance of general release to their members to ensure that nothing commercially sensitive or inaccurate was reported.

SH thanked the WRU for their time and urged them to continue to take the views of supporters on board as we have a lot to lose if a successful resolution isn’t found.

Meeting closed at 6:25pm