Welsh European dispute may end up in court
Welsh regions not to sign participation agreement given uncertainty
The president of the French Rugby Federation Pierre Camou stormed out of meeting.
The four Welsh regions will not meet next week’s deadline to continue their participation agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union as the dispute over the funding and control of the professional game in the country heads to court.
Yesterday the WRU’s board discussed the issue after Friday’s meeting in Dublin between the Six Nations involved in the Heineken Cup succeeded only in aborting the five-country tournament, excluding England, that had been agreed last month.
The president of the French Rugby Federation, Pierre Camou, had said that French participation hinged on the tournament being run by Fira, the organisation made up of the smaller unions, as a precursor to a major shake-up of the way the game in Europe is organised.
When the RaboDirect Pro 12 unions, together with England, thwarted Camou he was so angry he stormed out of the meeting, leaving French participation in Europe in doubt, even if the English clubs are persuaded to renegotiate on the basis that the Heineken Cup will be run from next season by the Six Nations committee.
The Welsh regions met yesterday and agreed they could not sign the participation agreement given the uncertainty over Europe, which is worth some £1.2 million to each of them a year. They have not asked the WRU to extend the deadline on December 31st but, if the union announces alternative plans, such as central contracts and alternative regional teams, they will ask a judge for an injunction.
They will argue that until the future of the Heineken Cup is resolved they cannot reasonably be expected to commit to an agreement that could lead to their funding being cut.
The union’s offer to centrally contract players has been refused by the regions because it would eat into their funding. The money would come from the £6 million they receive from central funds under the participation agreement and their proposal to increase that to £9 million was turned down by the WRU.