WRU and regions strike £60m deal

GAME ON: The WRU deal means Sam Warburton will now be able to resume club duties for Cardiff Blues.

GAME ON: The WRU deal means Sam Warburton will now be able to resume club duties for Cardiff Blues.

First published in Sport by , Editor

The Welsh Rugby Union and the four Welsh regions have finally signed a new £60m deal aimed at keeping star players in Wales and bringing an end to a bitter row which has gone on for almost two years.

The agreement, which is set to run until 2020, will see at least six key home-based internationals on dual contracts with the WRU and their region.

The deal also means that each of the regions - Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets - will be limited to signing only six non-Welsh qualified players.

The move is aimed at strengthening Wales’ domestic sides and halting the exodus of big-name players across the border and to France.

Players based outside Wales will also face being overlooked for the national side with coach Warren Gatland tightening selection policy.

The new selection policy rules that players based overseas will be unable to represent Wales, although Gatland is able to make exceptions. Players already based abroad will be exempt from the ruling for the duration of their current contracts.

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis said of the revamped selection criteria: "We have to judge things case-by-case - we have got to play fair."

Gatland will also decide which players will be offered dual contracts, with the WRU contributing 60% funding and the regions the remaining 40%.

The regions will all receive a shared £2m increase in overall funding, to £8.7m, from the union as well as a one-off payment of £500,000.

Amongst the other terms of the agreement, there will be a return of the Wales A side in 2015 after 13 years.

Lewis said: "The new contracts will help us keep more of our best players in Wales and will help stem the flow abroad of the talent we develop here."

Nigel Short, chairman of Regional Rugby Wales, said the agreement was a positive step forward, with plenty of hard work still to be done.

"With greater clarity and the security of a new agreement, the regions can forward plan with more focus, working hard to ensure their independent businesses remain competitive,” he said.

"Things will not change overnight - but securing our new agreement in partnership is a positive forward step."

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