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Page last updated at 06:36 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 07:36 UK

Gatland welcomes Welsh peace deal

Lions tour boosts Wales - Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland says he is relieved that "sanity" has prevailed in Welsh rugby after the signing of a new five-year participation agreement.

The Welsh Rugby Union and its four regions solved their differences last week, avoiding possible court action.

"It's great that we've sorted things out and hopefully there'll be some sanity and peace for the next five years," Gatland told BBC Sport Wales.

"It's good for the regions and... good for Welsh rugby as a whole."

The WRU and the four regions, who were acting under the umbrella organisation Regional Rugby Wales, had been at loggerheads for several years over issues such as player release for Wales international matches, plus financial disagreements.

But last week WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis was able to announce an end to the civil war that Welsh rugby was slipping towards.

It also clears the way for Gatland to have all his fit players available for selection for the 7 November Test against his New Zealand countrymen at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Warren Gatland
We're not always going to agree on everything 100% but there's always some middle ground

Wales coach Warren Gatland

That match against the All Blacks, which precedes games against Samoa, Argentina and Australia, falls outside the official International Rugby Board's window for Test rugby.

The regions had threatened to withhold players because of Anglo-Welsh Cup matches scheduled for that weekend, with the WRU prepared to go to court to secure player release for the Test side.

"It's almost two years in the job and this is something that's been hanging over us for the last couple of seasons," added Gatland.

"All of us can move forward and concentrate on rugby matters which is the most important thing - it's about winning and getting results.

"It's great that a deal's been done. I think that Roger Lewis needs to be given a significant amount of credit.

"He's been under a lot of pressure, I don't think that the regions have been always 100% happy with him.

"Maybe there was a part of the objective that they wanted Roger to go in his job but he's stuck firm, he's really pushed hard to finally get a deal."

Despite all the ructions between the WRU and the regions, Gatland believes his relationship with the players, staff and executives at the Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets has remained amicable.


"I don't think there was any issues in terms of the agreement that was in place, in terms of what we were looking for from a rugby perspective," Gatland said.

"The relationship that we've got with the regions as coaches is as healthy now as I think as it's ever been.

"But at the end of the day... it's always about money... and it was the regions looking for the money from the Union to be able to fund the game to make the players available for Welsh internationals.

"That was the primary thing and once that was sorted, the other things I think were easy enough for everyone to agree on.

"We're not always going to agree on everything 100% but there's always some middle ground."

*You can hear what else Warren Gatland has to say on Scrum V Radio on Thursday (BBC Radio Wales and online; 1900-2000 BST), with more to follow on Sunday in Scrum V (BBC TWO Wales and online; 1800-1850 BST, tv repeat at 2310).

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see also
Connacht v Blues (Fri)
16 Sep 09 |  Connacht
Wales aim for more Test matches
08 Sep 09 |  Welsh
Welsh rugby announces peace deal
08 Sep 09 |  Welsh
WRU announces yearly 1m profit
02 Sep 09 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Coming up next on Scrum V...
27 Oct 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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