WRU central contracts proposal

The Welsh Rugby Union has made an offer to centrally contract the regions' top Wales stars who are out of contract next summer, until the future of European rugby is resolved.

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Players 'should understand level of support' from WRU

The Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, Roger Lewis, said: "it is important that any player considering his future right now fully understands the level of support the WRU is prepared to offer."

He said the offer was made to the four regions on Monday.

There has been no formal response yet.

I want to make it clear to our players that we have full confidence in the future of the elite game in Wales.

It is important that any player considering his future right now fully understands the level of support the WRU is prepared to offer.

It would be inappropriate to go into details about any negotiations or discussions which rightly have to be concluded in private, but I respect the concerns of the players at a time when our talks on Europe are continuing.

Our squad is about to embark on a demanding Autumn series of international games and it is vitally important that all of their minds are completely focused on the task in hand.

I shared this proposal with the Regional chairmen on Monday of this week and look forward to what I expect would be a positive response.

– Roger Lewis, Group Chief Executive, Welsh Rugby Union

The WRU also says it is "confident that a positive outcome will be arrived at regarding the future of European rugby", although it will not comment on ongoing negotiations.

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WRU offers central contracts amid Euro uncertainty

The Welsh Rugby Union has made an offer to the four regions to centrally contract their leading Wales players whose deals expire at the end of this season, while uncertainty over the future of the European competitions continues.

In a statement this morning, the WRU said it was reacting to the regions' "concerns about their ability to conclude their own negotiations with leading players who are approaching the end of their existing contracts", by immediately offering support.

Players like Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton could be handed fresh contracts to stay in Wales. Credit: PA

It says: "Once the negotiations regarding the European tournament are successfully concluded the WRU would permit the regions to revert to the current position with the agreed contracts being reassigned back to them."

"The WRU has committed more than £33m to the four Welsh regions over the course of the next five years to retain players in Wales. The WRU is prepared to draw down from this £33 million investment immediately to secure the future of outstanding Welsh talent for Wales and assist the regions."

The move comes amid continuing debate over the future of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup, with English and French clubs looking to break away.

There have also been longer-term concerns about the ability of the regions to keep top players, with the likes of Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate and George North playing their club rugby in France and England, whose clubs have greater financial resources.

Senior Welsh players including Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones and Jonathan Davies are all out of contract at the end of the season.