Welsh Rugby
WRU injected £1m to help stop exodus
ESPN Staff
September 25, 2013
British & Irish Lions star Leigh Halfpenny is a man in demand © Getty Images

The Welsh Rugby Union set aside £1m during the last financial year to help the regions keep their top players.

The governing body revealed its annual report on Wednesday and has reinvested £22.1million back into the domestic game and achieved record pre-tax earning during the last financial year. Of the £22.1m, £4m was invested into the community side of Welsh rugby and £4.2m was injected into the investment side of the sport.

Chief executive Roger Lewis had forecast a more difficult financial year after 2012's figures returned a record turnover and a record-equalling profit. Turnover was down £2.2million to £61million, but earnings before tax were up by £1.5million to £29.1million.

The net repayable bank debt of the WRU rose slightly but remained below £20m at £19.5m, meaning the union is on target to have its debt cleared by 2021.

The Professional Regional Game Board, consisting of WRU and representatives from the four regions, will meet today, according to Wales Online, as they attempt to stop a number of their top players leave for lucrative contracts in France.

Top of the list will be fullback Leigh Halfpenny and reports in the Welsh press say Toulon are currently leading the race to secure his services. Sam Warburton is also out of contract at the end of the season with both Toulon and Racing Metro reportedly keen to bring him to France.

Alun Wyn-Jones, Ian Evans and Adam Jones are also out of contract in the summer and a number of French teams are reportedly keen to sign the Ospreys trio.

While keeping Wales' top players in the country will be at the top of WRU CEO Lewis' to do list, he is optimistic the results of the last year shows the body in charge of Welsh rugby is on a firm financial footing.

"The results we publish today stand as clear confirmation that our business is now set on firm foundations and we are able to operate successfully even in challenging economic times," Lewis said. "This displays a direct link with the key changes we have put in place since 2006 with radical reforms of our financial and operational practices plus a robust recruitment policy.

"It costs money to fund radical change and nurture development so I am delighted that we have again been able to deliver meaningful and record levels of financial support within our priority areas of elite rugby, the community game and the Millennium Stadium.

"It is also a tribute to our success and our reputation that we are able to attract key executive staff of the calibre of Josh Lewsey as head of rugby and Mark Williams to become Millennium Stadium manager to join our outstanding executive board.

"Soon we will welcome the Rugby League World Cup opening ceremony and matches to the Stadium and we are already beginning to plan for the Rugby World Cup games we will host in 2015. These are great times for Wales and we are delighted to be playing our part in making this a great nation to be part of."

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