'Warburton caught in the middle of dispute'
ESPN Staff
July 14, 2014
Sam Warburton is hopeful of playing for the Cardiff Blues despite the impasse between the WRU and the four regions © Wales Rugby Union

Following the news Sam Warburton's immediate club career appears to be in limbo, his agent Derwyn Jones has said the players are "caught in the middle" of the dispute between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

The four regions and the WRU are still trying to thrash out a new Participation Agreement but the two parties seemed poles apart on Friday when they issued counter statements expressing their frustration at the inability to find a common ground. The impasse leaves Warburton in limbo.

At present he has a WRU-funded central contract but the regions are adamant they will not pick any player on such a deal until a new agreement is signed. Warburton wants to play for the Cardiff Blues this season and his agent, Jones, hopes an agreement will be reached soon.

"Sam's only option to stay in Wales was with the governing body and he was very happy to sign at the time, otherwise he was going to be lost and go to France and that's something he didn't want to commit to," Jones told the BBC. "I think we've just got to wait and see what is resolved between the regions and the governing body.

"You don't want individual players like Sam ... caught in the middle, you want a resolution so they can just go out and play their rugby. This goes far further than just Sam Warburton, there's regions talking about having to make cut backs in their businesses.

"So it's not just about one player, it's about the future of lots of players and of the game in Wales. And that's what we want and hope, that common sense prevails and we can for once focus about what's happening on the field rather than what's happening off it."

There are fears that if the regions fail to find a new agreement they will be forced to sell some of their top-earners, a situation Jones hopes never materialises.

"Most squads have already been finalised," said Jones. "However, I think everybody's still hopeful that the regions and the WRU can find some common ground, still hopeful that an agreement can be found for the good of the game."

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