NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies admits that the fresh deal with the Welsh Rugby Union has put the heat on the region to produce more international talent, writes Chris Kirwan.
Regional Rugby Wales, the body that represents the Dragons, Ospreys, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues, signed a six-year Rugby Services Agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union yesterday.
The core funding of £6.7million will come through to RRW from the governing body and will then be split to reward international call-ups, dual contracts and development.
The quartet are also taking over control of the academies from the WRU, who will provide £150,000 to each region to cover the cost.
The Dragons have previously been accused of taking out more than they put in given that they have traditionally provided a number of Wales players that can be counted on one hand.
But the region has recruited plenty of experience this summer in a bid to aid in the development of young talent such as Hallam Amos, Jack Dixon, Tyler Morgan, Elliot Dee and Joe Davies.
And Davies believes the challenge of increasing income by providing players for Warren Gatland is one that director of rugby Lyn Jones and head coach Kingsley Jones have already embraced.
"In terms of the division of money it fits in to Lyn and Kingsley's strategy in terms of producing players for Wales," he said. "That was laid down for a rugby reason and now it's also linked for commercial reasons.
"We have invested off the field, bring in people like (elite performance manager) Huw Bevan while Lyn and Kingsley are regarded as good coaches and we have top quality physios and medical staff.
"Those are some of the areas that the other regions weren't particularly happy about in the past.
"Now the better we do on the park, the better we do financially and the better we control the business, the better our chance of a vibrant, sustainable future.
"The hard work starts now."
There remains some frustration that the fresh accord is similar to one proposed by RRW last October, since when more internationals have left Wales.
They are also pleased that it will see the introduction of the Professional Regional Game Board – with independent chairman Sir Wyn Williams having the casting vote – two years after it was first suggested.
"We are delighted that the whole episode is over," said Davies. "It gives us a bit of certainty and ability to move forward.
"All of the regions are in a stronger position and we have a base but it's only a base, there isn't suddenly money sloshing around."