A Joint Statement From Wales"€™ Four Rugby

A number of highly inaccurate and misleading statements have appeared in the media over the past 10 days from WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis, regarding the nature of recent discussions ...

A number of highly inaccurate and misleading statements have appeared in the media over the past 10 days from WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis, regarding the nature of recent discussions, between the WRU and the Regions, over an extended and modified participation agreement.From the outset, it should be made clear that at no time have the Regions threatened, or even intimated, for any reason, the withdrawal of players from this year"€™s Rugby World Cup - nor would such action be considered. We wish our combined players who make up the Welsh Squad every success as they embark on their first game of the Cup this Sunday "€" as ever, they have our full support and total backing in representing Wales. As Regions, we have been deeply saddened by Roger"€™s recent outbursts. At no time, until Roger"€™s statement to the PRB on August 23rd, were the Regions aware of any fundamental disagreement in the combined efforts of the Regions and the WRU to arrive at a new participation agreement. The Regions have enjoyed a strong working relationship with the WRU, where ideas for the betterment of the game and its governance have been generated in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and respect. In fact, as part of the drafting process, it was the WRU who asked for the Regions"€™ assistance in providing suggestions and feedback - "€œinnovative and positive measures"€ - to develop the regional game in Wales. How Roger can, therefore, pass comment relating to his "€œdisappointment at the attitude and actions of the regions"€ is utterly baffling and could not be further removed from the reality of the negotiations that have actually taken place to date. Roger has also voiced, repeatedly, through the media, his disappointment at the "€œactions of the four regions in going public with details of our private discussions"€ and has done so in a series of conveniently lengthy, prepared statements. As even the most casual observer will have noted, by contrast, the responses of individual regional representatives at the time were impromptu and mild, muted and conciliatory in tone. It perhaps comes as no surprise that a review subsequently undertaken by the four regions can find no evidence of briefings by them on the issue, prior to Roger"€™s media outburst. Perhaps, Roger might now do the same within his own organisation and reflect again on the "€œintegrity, honesty and fairness"€ he claims for the Union in these matters. At no time, have the Regions, to use Roger"€™s own terminology "€œbullied"€, "€œheld to ransom"€ or "€œdemanded"€ anything from the Union. As previously stated, the new extended participation agreement has been drafted in total partnership and accord with the Union. Far from, to use Roger"€™s own words again, "€œputting unnecessary pressure"€ on Wales"€™ build up to the World Cup, it is Roger himself who unilaterally and bizarrely announced, from nowhere, that he was shredding these plans on August 23rd. This included, amongst a host of other details pertaining to the game, details of player compensation for the World Cup, something he feels at pains to burden. To be clear, it is the Union who, at the PRB meeting of March 15th, asked for details of each Region"€™s individual squad costs to arrive at a formula for compensating the Regions, which was duly delivered. It was the Union who then proposed a formula that was presented in writing to the Regions on May 25th, offering compensation to the Regions of 60% of their assumed squad costs.It was the Union who asked the Regions to propose revisions to the formula to reflect potential future revenue increases which they had overlooked. But it was Roger Lewis who, on behalf of the Union, unprompted by any disagreement whatsoever with the Regions, is now questioning a revised agreement that we have all been implementing for the last 18 months.

The Regions collectively understand, better than most, the pressures involved in the administration of rugby in Wales and how, when all eyes look to you for leadership, the pressure can sometimes lead to the lure of spin at the expense of gravitas and substance. But, as Roger points out, in Wales, rugby is a family and we look forward to the resumption of amicable discussions. The Regions, at least, never asked for them to stop and we remain deeply committed to the game in Wales and to the success of the Welsh Team.