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Page last updated at 08:26 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 09:26 UK

New body aims to improve pro-game

Interview: David Moffett

The row between the Welsh Rugby Union and the four Welsh regions has escalated with the regions setting up a new body.

Regional Rugby Wales, headed up by former WRU chief executive David Moffett, will try to improve the way the professional game in Wales is run.

It will aim to bridge the divide which has developed between the two sides.

Most recently, they have fallen out over international player release and the catch-all participation agreement.

"I would like to think that the WRU sees this as a positive move," Moffett told BBC Radio Wales.

"The first thing the regions wanted to do was put themselves on an even playing field with the likes of England and France who have these bodies that look after the professional game."

Moffett, who left his post at the WRU in 2005 citing ill health, was behind the launch of the five regional sides in 2003.

He was also in charge when the Celtic Warriors were bought out by the WRU and wound up taking the number of regions down to four.

But Moffett rejected suggestions that his latest involvement, albeit as an interim role, would lead to more divisions.

"I don't understand why," he said.

"They should see somebody with my experience coming in and working with them for the best of Welsh rugby.

"It should be seen as something positive and not negative.


"I think I have a reputation of putting Wales first and that won't change.

"I think that I could contribute not only to the four regions, but also to Welsh rugby as we move forward."

The latest row between the regions and the WRU surrounds player release for the autumn internationals.

Wales coach Warren Gatland initially wanted 13 days to prepare his players for their autumn international against South Africa.

The regions initially only wanted to release their Welsh players for five days, once the EDF Energy Cup matches were completed.

In a compromise move, Gatland proposed having his stars either side of the final round of EDF Energy Cup matches - giving him eight days preparation time in total.

But the Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons issued a joint statement last week saying that "reaching agreement on extended player release, at least in the short-term, is unlikely".

The statement went on to accuse the WRU of displaying "contempt" for the regions, which the Union responded to by claiming it was "inaccurate and misleading".

"I don't think it's (the relationship) at its healthiest," said Moffett.

"This body is not just about negotiating player release or a new participation agreement.

"In the future, it's going to be about the regions pooling their resources to ensure that, for example, the academies are working as the WRU would want them to.

"I will be working very hard to make sure we get parity with the other unions and fairness."

see also
Warriors bought out by WRU
18 May 04 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
Magners Celtic League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
European Challenge Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
WRU Challenge Cup archive
12 Jul 06 |  Welsh
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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