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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 15:58 UK

Wales player row heading to court

Welsh rugby
Welsh rugby is heading for fresh civil war

Wales' four rugby regions will take the Welsh Rugby Union to court in September over player release for Wales' first autumn Test against New Zealand.

Umbrella organisation Regional Rugby Wales claims the WRU has not been granted permission for player release.

The 7 November fixture against the All Blacks falls outside the International Rugby Board's official window and clashes with Anglo-Welsh Cup matches.

A hearing in the High Court has been set for 9, 10 and 11 September.

"The WRU agreed a fixture against the All Blacks without our agreement," said RRW chief executive Stuart Gallacher.

"We need a revised participation agreement and hopefully this court case, as undesirable as it is, may be the spur to finally achieving a proper outcome for Welsh rugby."


The WRU won a similar legal battle over player-release in November 2008.

Then the row centred over player release for Wales' first November Test with world champions South Africa in Cardiff - a Test that was also outside the IRB window.

Wales coach Warren Gatland wanted his international stars available for national team training despite the four regions - the Ospreys, Dragons, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues - preparing for crucial EDF Energy Cup games.

The WRU successfully took the regions to the High Court and the union said at the time: "Judge Havelock Allen QC recognised the Test match is the most important factor, not the politics."

It had been hoped a new participation agreement would settle these and other matters between the union and the regions.

But RRW claims that: "despite months of protracted talks, at which very little has been achieved, a revised participation agreement has yet to emerge."

A WRU statement previously replied: "The WRU is very surprised at the suggestion that the negotiations between the WRU and the four regional organisations have 'in reality, not only stalled but failed'."

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