THERE are reports Wales’ four regions could be about to take legal action for the right to play in cross-border tournaments without permission from their governing body the Welsh Rugby Union, writes Iwan Gabe Davies.
The Newport Gwent Dragons, Scarlets, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues are to have talks with the WRU next week in an ongoing saga that threatens to change the face of the game in Wales yet again after the introduction of the regional system ten years ago.
The Heineken Cup fallout is a serious one with the regions wanting to play against English clubs, rather than be forced by the WRU to compete in Europe.
The English sides have confirmed they will play no part in the Heineken Cup next season.
They had wanted to set up a Rugby Championship Cup with new broadcast big players BT Sport but that proposed tournament was scuppered when the French club pulled out and pledged their loyalty to the Heineken Cup.
The WRU want the regions to play in the Heineken Cup but they would prefer to join the Aviva Premiership and play against England’s elite rather than compete in the ERC competition as well as in the RaboDirect PRO12 against Ireland, Scotland and Italy’s top teams.
The regions are also upset the union reportedly tried to persuade Wales stars like Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones and Leigh Halfpenny not to sign new deals with the regions a
The exodus of top-end Wales players to French and English clubs like Lee Byrne, Luke Charteris, James Hook, Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips, George North and Paul James – and the imminent departure of Jonathan Davies and Ian Evans to come – has seriously depleted the quality of the regional teams who struggle to make much impact in the Heineken Cup anyway nowadays.
And there are growing rumours the regions will not sign the participation agreement with the WRU before the December 31 deadline, further threatening to plunge the domestic game into chaos.