Welsh Rugby
WRU calls for central contracts talks
ESPN Staff
April 2, 2013

The Welsh Rugby Union has called on the four regions to consider adopting central contracts as they seek to end the exodus of the country's best players.

The WRU has invited representatives from the Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets to hold talks at the Millennium Stadium on a date yet to be confirmed.

Despite the national side's recent successes, including back-to-back RBS 6 Nations titles, the regions have struggled to retain their home-grown star men due to spending capabilities of clubs in France and England, as well as financial difficulties of their own.

The Scarlets are currently in the midst of a war of words with the WRU concerning the rumoured departure of George North. The WRU accused the Scarlets at the weekend of looking to cash in on one of their key assets by touting George North to clubs in France last year without the Wales wing's knowledge. North now appears set to join Northampton later in the year.

In an attempt to stem the player drain, the WRU claimed at the weekend that it proposed central contracts to the regions last August but this suggestion was not embraced. The organisation added that it had "discovered that the regions signed an agreement which precludes any of them playing an individual who is centrally contracted to the Union. The WRU urges all four regions to abandon this stance and return to the negotiating table."

But rather than allow any hostility to grow, the WRU now wants discussions to take place over the implementation and merit of central contracts.

"The WRU asks the four regional organisations to put aside their agreement not to play centrally contracted players and work with the Union to help secure the future of our young players in Wales," a WRU statement read. "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.

"The WRU would also welcome suggestions from the four regional organisations on how best a centrally contracted player system would work to help safeguard Welsh rugby."

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