Welsh rugby regions turn down WRU summit invitation

The four Welsh regions have declined a Welsh Rugby Union invitation to attend a meeting to discuss the central contracting of players.

Regional Rugby Wales says it will only discuss the future of the game through the Professional Regional Game Board.

The PRGB , comprising the four regions, the WRU and an independent chairman, was set up following a professional review of the game in Wales.

It has met only once since being formed in December 2012.

Presiding judge Sir Wyn Williams was appointed chairman of the PRGB by the WRU.

What is a central contract?

A player's contract is held by the Union and not by his club, province or region.

The Union, who pays his wages, can then determine where, when and even what position he plays.

New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Scotland all have their own variations of a central contract.

The row between the four regions and the union has been triggered by the imminent transfer of Wales wing George North from Scarlets to Northampton.

That prompted the WRU to issue an invitation through a media release for the four regions to attend a "summit meeting" to discuss central contracts.

At a media conference at Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday, RRW chairman Stuart Gallacher said the regions would not be attending.

He also warned that the loss of Wales internationals to clubs in England and France is becoming more than a trickle and could become a "haemorrhage" in two years.

Reading from a prepared statement  , Gallacher said: "Regional Rugby Wales on behalf of the four regions will write to the WRU to respectfully decline their kind invitations to the four regional organisations to attend a summit at the Welsh Rugby Union and explain why we would rather discuss the future of Welsh rugby and its solutions via the agreed PRGB.

"We are frankly embarrassed by some of the propaganda and damaging speculation and comment that is being played out in certain sections of the Welsh media irrespective of the actual facts.

"The leadership of the governing body of the Welsh Rugby Union has to look hard in the mirror as to why the standing of the game in Wales is the current state it is.

"The regions would question the tactics of the WRU executive, led by Roger Lewis, in bringing what was a democratic and agreed process via the PRGB and memorandum of understanding to a grinding halt.

"The four regions and the WRU signed and agreed a memorandum of understanding in November 2012 that outlined the creating of the PRGB.

"On the basis of that agreement the PRGB met once on 17 December 2012. The regions have not changed or altered in any way their interpretation, understanding or intent or commitment to the agreements reached since the first proposals were made in May 2012.

"We are therefore calling for an independent arbitrator to assess why this duly agreed democratic process has been halted."

In response, the WRU said in a statement: "The WRU welcomes the desire of the Regional Organisations to continue discussions on how best to secure a winning future for professional rugby in Wales and retain the best Welsh talent.

"The WRU will outline, to the four Regional Organisations, a strategy for the professional game in Wales and would welcome input from all four Regional organisations.

"The Board of the WRU, for the third time, offers the four Regional Organisations the opportunity to address them.

"It is now hoped that all discussions are conducted around the board table."