THE FOUR regions have told the Welsh Rugby Union that they want a response to their latest offer by 4pm today as the spat over a fresh participation agreement rumbles on, writes Chris Kirwan.
Regional Rugby Wales, the body that represents Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets, has made amendments to a draft rugby services agreement.
They state in a letter to Roger Lewis and David Pickering, chief executive and chairman of the governing body respectively, that they want feedback by this afternoon and then they want a fresh accord to be signed off by Friday.
RRW say that if there is no progress then they "will terminate all further discussions with the WRU and concentrate on taking decisions for the benefit of their own businesses."
The last participation agreement ended on June 30 and the regions say they are not prepared to carry on "in the game of cat and mouse that appears to being played".
The letter, which is signed by Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell and his counterparts Roger Blyth (Ospreys), Peter Thomas (Blues) and Nigel Short (Scarlets), reads: "It appears to us that our relationship (RRW and WRU) is at an all-time low and that the true objective of the WRU is actually to 'starve' the regions to the point of financial ruin.
"How that is to the benefit of Welsh rugby is completely beyond us."
They then state three requirements:
- A desire for a genuine partnership ("It is not an employer/employee or master/slave relationship")
- That their interests are aligned – without a thriving domestic game Test success is not possible
- That the regions are adequately rewarded for providing national players, which enable WRU financial success
If no deal is reached then Wales will be without the majority of their players for the fourth autumn international against South Africa, which tickets are already on sale for, while the regions have said they will have to scale back their playing costs.
Warren Gatland sat in on meetings at the start of the month and was said to be happy with what was agreed in terms of rugby matters in a crucial year ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
The regions have been offered £6.7million, the same as the previous deal, along with £2million for central or dual contracts.