Hazell calls on WRU to prevent player exodus
December 16, 2011
Welsh lock Luke Charteris will leave the Dragons at the end of the season © Getty Images
Newport Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell has called on the Welsh Rugby Union to help the regions financially amid fears of a mass exodus of Wales' leading players.
Dragons lock Luke Charteris will leave the region at the end of the season, with Perpignan and the Melbourne Rebels both chasing the lock's signature, and Cardiff's Gethin Jenkins is courting interest from Aviva Premiership side Bath and also from across the channel. Ospreys prop Adam Jones is also rumoured to be casting his eye abroad with the likes of James Hook, Mike Phillips and Lee Byrne already plying their trade in France.
And Hazell believes the WRU need to start injecting cash to help the region's compete with the huge offers from abroad or risk losing the bulk of the side which were so successful during the 2011 World Cup.
"The WRU should take charge of it and if they want to keep players in Wales, they should be paying to keep them," Hazell told BBC Wales. "The gap between France and [us] is tremendous. I mean it's ridiculous.
"You can't blame the players - money talks. And we've got all our other players signed up for a few years so we've done our bit. But we're following the government stance, really - we're saying no to Europe. But there we are.
"The money [French clubs] are paying is ridiculous, but the thing is they're getting 15,000-20,000 people watching them every week and we're getting 4,000-5,000 or 6,000. So it's as different as chalk and cheese. And they've just got the money, that's all.
"Their squads are [worth] 10m-15m Euros. Our squads are £4m or less, so yes, it [money] talks."
Hazell, however, does admit he is unsure whether the WRU has the financial muscle to match the money on offer in France. "You've got to ask yourself do the WRU have the money to do it? And if you're going to pay a player £200,000 and he's going to get £400,000-£500,000 in France where are they going to find all that money from?
"It's not a good position to be in, I can tell you. We've all got to look at it together and we've got to find a solution and what that solution is, I don't know.
"We did our best and if we'd gone any farther we'd have bankrupted ourselves."
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