The aim is to identify workable solutions to basic problems and ensure clubs are fully aware of the best course of action to resolve any dispute. The project aims to provide the same high quality of legal advice that member clubs would receive from any solicitor or barrister.
The scheme will be managed and monitored by staff at Cardiff University's Law School. The project is being supported by the law firm Hugh James and Civitas barristers' chambers in Cardiff, whose staff will offer professional guidance and assistance to the participating students, and will underwrite the legal advice given.
The WRU's Club Support Officers will also liaise between the clubs and participating students to identify cases which could benefit from the scheme.
The project is also bilingual, and clubs may submit email and written queries through the medium of Welsh. Clubs will be able to contact the scheme via email in English at firstname.lastname@example.org or in Welsh through email@example.com; by phone (via the Law School switchboard on 02920 876705 on working days between 9am and 5pm) or by post (to WRU/Cardiff Law School Pro Bono Team, Cardiff Law School, Museum Avenue Cardiff CF10 3AX).
Verbal advice will not be given under the scheme but all written responses will be received within an agreed timescale.
A bilingual newsletter detailing the scheme and containing legal advice on mainstream issues will be distributed to Welsh rugby clubs soon as part of the project with updated editions to follow.
WRU Head of Legal Affairs, Rhodri Lewis, said: "This is a project which I hope will deliver clear benefits to the WRU's member clubs.
"There are many legal issues which clubs face on a regular basis which could be resolved effectively with the correct legal advice.
"This scheme empowers club officials to seek that advice in the knowledge that they will not be incurring costs.
"The students are all studying law and the advice they provide will be reviewed before being provided to clubs.
"Undoubtedly the students will also benefit from getting involved in real issues which will offer them the opportunity to gain practical and meaningful experience.
"I am grateful to Cardiff University Law School for agreeing to establish this scheme and to the law firm Hugh James and Civitas barristers' Chambers for offering their assistance and support."
The Director of Engagement and Employability, and Reader in Law, at Cardiff Law School, Julie Price, added:
"We are pleased to have this new scheme in our portfolio of Law in the Real World opportunities for our students, and we are looking forward to working with the WRU and its member clubs. Our other "pro-bono" schemes have a social justice focus, but the "Law in Sport" WRU scheme gives our students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in a wider business and commercial context.
"Rugby clubs are the lifeblood of many of our communities, so this scheme not only provides our students with great practical experience but also gives them the opportunity to give something back to the community.
"We are especially grateful to Gareth Williams, Senior Partner at Hugh James, and to Cathrine Grubb, Barrister at Civitas Chambers, and their colleagues, who will supervise the legal advice given under the scheme".
The scheme is launched from today (6 November 2012).
Left to Right: WRU Club Support Advisor Nicola Smith, Head of Cardiff Law School Professor Nigel Lowe, WRU Head of Legal Affairs Rhodri Lewis, Head of Employment and HR Services Group at Hugh James Emma Burns and Director of Engagement and Employability at Cardiff Law School Julie Price join students from Cardiff Law School to launch free legal advice scheme to rugby clubs.