JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE SUPPORTERS OF WELSH REGIONAL RUGBY
30th December 2013
As you are aware representatives from our Joint Group met with representatives of Regional Rugby Wales immediately prior to Christmas (Sunday 23rd December) on our request further to our meeting with the Welsh Rugby Union on Monday 16th December 2013.
We will release a copy of the full minutes of that meeting to our respective members in due course – you will understand that we are volunteers and it has been a busy festive period, but these should be sent within the next 7 days.
In the meantime, it is fair to say that we still have a number of serious concerns and there are a number of discrepancies in the information that we have been told and/or shown.
The RRW representatives were able to provide us with evidence that a number of the claims made by the WRU were incorrect or misleading. We will be requesting a follow up meeting in the New Year with the WRU to attempt to understand why this has occurred as offered to us by WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis.
The concerns we have include the following:
That there have been no alternatives to the current impasse suggested by our Governing Body - the Welsh Rugby Union, and those proposed by the regions over time have been seemingly rejected out of hand.
That the Governing Body is being unnecessarily rigid in demanding that the regions sign the Participation Agreement by 31st December 2013 when there is no clarity about the competitions and revenues which they are required to sign up for.
The insistence that the current Participation Agreement is non-negotiable, and cannot be varied, where Clause 30 of the Participation Agreement specifically provides for an annual review of the situation. This has never taken place.
That the WRU will not implement ‘Gatland’s Law’ unless the regions sign the Participation Agreement showing a complete lack of regard for the viewpoint of supporters who have loyally followed the regions in good faith for 10 years and who have the right to expect that their children can see their idols play for locally based teams.
Concern at WRU claims that it was not responsible for negotiation of Broadcasting contracts and revenue, and that it was in the hands of Celtic League Ltd and ERC Ltd, in direct contradiction to an interview given by the Chief Executive of the WRU in the Independent in November 2012 where he claims to have personally negotiated’ the RaboDirect Pro12 contract and ‘ensured that income was maximised’ from the ERC broadcasting rights.
That the PRO12 league currently sponsored by RaboDirect is not providing the quality of opposition that Warren Gatland would want for his current or aspiring Welsh players and that there are no plans to explore alternatives – which is for the protection of rugby in other nations, to the detriment of our own. We appreciate that there are contractual obligations at present but would urge the Governing Body to consider the establishment of an Anglo Welsh league in the future when current commitments expire. An Anglo Welsh league would provide better crowds, increased television revenues and a competition sufficiently attractive to both retain and attract talent from home and abroad.
That there are reports of a ‘plan’ to establish three ‘new regions’ in the media when we were categorically informed by the WRU that there have been no discussions regarding a Plan B. This could of course simply be rumour or conjecture but its concerning for regional rugby supporters nonetheless.
These are key issues that we believe the WRU are not addressing as they should be as the governing body for Welsh Rugby and the organisation that is responsible for safeguarding the best interests of Welsh Rugby. The full minutes of our meeting with RRW will follow and we will continue to keep members and other supporters informed.