WRU to offer central contracts to Wales stars as Heineken row continues
Last Updated: 24/10/13 8:28am
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The Welsh Rugby Union will offer central contracts to leading Wales players whilst there is still uncertainty over the Heineken Cup's future.
Negotiations continue about the format of European club rugby from next season, with the Welsh clubs supporting a breakaway competition proposed by the leading English and French clubs.
The WRU is concerned that if the clubs are unable to renegotiate the contracts of their leading players because of uncertainty over future income, the stars will join the exodus of talent from Wales.
The likes of Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate, Mike Phillips, James Hook and Luke Charteris all play their club rugby in France, where Top 14 clubs can offer considerably larger wages, and George North signed for Northampton in the summer.
The likes of Leigh Halfpenny and Alex Cuthbert are both likely to interest the French and English clubs.
A statement from the WRU read: "Due to the length of the ongoing European negotiations the Welsh Regions have expressed concerns about their ability to conclude their own negotiations with leading players who are approaching the end of their existing contracts.
"To help and support the four Welsh Regions the WRU has offered to immediately assist to enable the Regions to retain their leading Welsh qualified players in Wales.
"The WRU has offered to contract all of the Regions' leading Welsh qualified players who are out of contract at the end of this season, on appropriate terms to be agreed.
"Once the negotiations regarding the European tournament are successfully concluded the WRU would permit the Regions to revert to the current position with the agreed contracts being reassigned back to them.
"The WRU has committed more than £33 million to the four Welsh Regions over the course of the next five years to retain players in Wales, in addition to all of the Welsh revenues generated from the RaboDirect and any future European competition."