The WRU is very surprised that the Regions chose to issue a Press statement at 12.17pm on Monday, 6 July.
In particular the WRU is very surprised at the suggestion that the negotiations between the WRU and the four Regional organisations have," in reality, not only stalled, but failed," since negotiations have proceeded in good faith since the four Regional Organisations elected to renew the existing Participation Agreement for a further five years from June 1, 2009.
Indeed at the last meeting on June 12, 2009, a further meeting was arranged for 17 July to discuss the very topics which the Regions refer to in their press statement.
The Regions have not advised the WRU that the July 17 meeting is not proceeding as planned.
In relation to player release this is governed by the Participation Agreement which has been renewed in return for substantial payments. It provides for greater player release than under IRB Regulation 9. Regulation 9 gives basic release for which the WRU would not have to make any payment. So far as the fourth Autumn international against New Zealand is concerned the WRU's right to stage this is enshrined in the Participation Agreement.
Given the problems which the WRU faced in relation to last seasons Autumn international it was felt prudent to ask the Regions to set forward any contrary view on the WRU's entitlement and this was therefore raised on February 5, 2009.
The Regional Organisations made no substantive response, despite repeated requests, and so the WRU felt it had no alternative but to write to the Regions on June 8, requiring the dispute to be settled through mediation and proposing an eminent QC as mediator. The Regions replied on June 17 raising a query and seeking clarification before the Regions replied formally to the WRU request for either mediation or a declaration.
A full response was sent on behalf of the WRU on June 26 but the Regional Organisations chose not to reply formally, but instead decided, without the courtesy of notifying the WRU, to resort to court proceedings on July 3. The existence of these proceedings were only brought to the attention of the WRU about an hour before the Regions' Press statement was issued. The WRU does not understand the Regions emotive assertion that the WRU made any threats.
It is also of interest that the four Regions have all taken up their full ticket allocation for the New Zealand game.
The WRU has invested heavily in all aspects of the game, in particular, the Regions.
The WRU does not recognise the so-called "master and slave" relationship. The relationship is the one agreed by the Regions when they took up Regional rugby.
The WRU , however, seeks to protect rugby in general and its substantial investment.
It should be noted that within the current negotiations the WRU has significantly enhanced its proposed agreement with the Regions and, in return, have asked the Regions to compromise in areas such as the employment of non-Welsh qualified players.
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WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips hosted the second meeting of the WRU Youth Board last weekend ahead of the Judgement Day IV regional double-header. Tthe board, made up of 15 under-21-year-olds from around Wales, heard presentations from head of participation Ryan Jones, policy and integrity manager Jeremy Rogers and national women's rugby manager Caroline Spanton, with Pro Rugby Wales CEO Mark Davies also on hand to hear the range of views aired.
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