Lewis subject of "onslaught of abuse"
October 24, 2008
Roger Lewis and Warren Gatland have seen their wishes granted on player release © Getty Images
Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis has declared his organisation victors in a club versus country row which has made him a target for an ``onslaught of abuse and personal insults''.
Lewis has found himself lined up against the four Welsh regions in the controversy. Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons were refusing to release players for training with Wales boss Warren Gatland next week.
They have been forced - temporarily at least - to go along with WRU demands following a ruling from a High Court judge. "We have come up with a solution in the best interests of the game, the fans and most importantly the players," Lewis said. "This is a sad day for Welsh rugby. We have received an onslaught of abuse and personal insults but I will rise above that. I have been working discreetly and in private to find a rugby solution."
Judge Havelock Allan QC ruled in favour of the WRU, demanding that Wales coach Warren Gatland's 32-man autumn Test squad be released from their regions for training next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The four professional regions did not intend to release their stars until Monday week, just five days before Wales face world champions South Africa.
Gatland initially wanted 13 days' preparation, starting next Monday, before voicing his support for a compromise arrangement of three days next week, followed by the entire Test week itself.
His squad could then be released back to the regions in time for the final round of Anglo-Welsh Cup pool games between October 31 and November 2. In a statement, the WRU said the High Court had found in favour of them and directed the regions should not "prevent, hinder or obstruct" the players from attending training next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
They will also be available for training during the whole of the following week. Judge Havelock Allan QC's ruling was based on his decision that the WRU has first and last call on the availability of players for training sessions.
The judge explained that his ruling is binding on the regions by virtue of the express terms of the Participation Agreement, and also by virtue of their membership of the WRU.
According to the WRU, the court refused an application from the regions for leave to appeal against his ruling.