Rugby Union: Ceasefire in Wales' civil war unlikely to last long: Welsh game left in state of turmoil as principal antagonists in domestic dispute prepare for the next round. Steve Bale reports

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The Independent Online
A CEASEFIRE of sorts has been declared at the Welsh Rugby Union - which, despite the fact that it has no committee, does still exist. But it is hard to imagine the guns will remain silent for much longer than the next time Denis Evans and Glanmor Griffiths face each other across a table.

These are the principal antagonists in the civil war, which had rumbled on for months before reaching its decisive engagement when the WRU's 220 member clubs and affiliated organisations overwhelmingly voted no confidence in their own general committee at Sunday's special general meeting in Port Talbot.

The committee's ensuing walk-out was dramatic but, as most of them will be back again next month, significant only as a gesture. The real importance lay in the stand the clubs had, however indirectly, taken - and it did not even need to go to a ballot when a forest of arms shot up in favour of the motion - against Evans as secretary.

The point is that as long as Griffiths was making his allegations of misconduct and mismanagement against Evans, the committee stood four-square behind Evans. Griffiths became such anathema to them that they even barred him from entering WRU premises. Legal action has gone as far as the High Court and even now may not have ended.

The clubs took Griffiths's word for it, and were notably unimpressed by the reams of paper the WRU sent them in a vain attempt to refute their former treasurer. Nor has Griffiths any intention of allowing his pursuit of Evans to rest simply because he, rather than the secretary, was handsomely vindicated in Port Talbot.

The accusations Griffiths has made are so serious that if he cannot prove them he would be open to a libel action. He evidently intends to have a damn good try.

'It will be for the new committee to decide whether or not they want to investigate my allegations further,' Griffiths said. 'If they do and some of them are proved, further action will have to be taken.'

That could scarcely be plainer, and in any case the idea that Griffiths could make peace with a man whom he alleges has physically threatened him is utterly fanciful. Evans, knowing the vast majority of clubs are against him, is in a precarious, one might almost say hopeless, position.

He could attack by suing Griffiths or else accept the inevitable in one of two ways: either by seeking a decent severance or by meekly accepting the situation and working on. But meekness is emphatically not one of Evans's characteristics, the infamous irascibility having done as much as anything to precipitate his downfall.

By mid-May a new batch of district representatives, doubtless including most of those who have just resigned, will have been elected. Until then the union is being run by its trustees together with Griffiths, who quit as honorary treasurer in December but was convincingly re-elected on Sunday, and the paid officers - of whom Evans is clearly the most prominent.

The trustees, Hermas Evans and Graham Tregidon, a former president and the present president, were in the offices at the Arms Park yesterday planning how to get through the next month. They may also be asking themselves exactly what it is the clubs want now that they have so strikingly exercised their collective will.

The secretary has been seeking constitutional reform to streamline the workings of the union and accelerate its cumbersome decision-making. But that would inevitably take power from the clubs - at the very moment they have flexed their muscles and found they rather enjoyed it.

'We've been working on constitutional reform for the last 15 months,' John Powell, who is now the WRU's ex-competitions chairman, said. 'If it hadn't been for this affair with Glanmor Griffiths, then it's likely that by now we would have come to a conclusion.'

And therein lies the contradiction at the heart of the WRU: that the clubs, now all-powerful, begin by saying they want change but then do not know exactly what and finally, when something specific is suggested, after all they are not so keen. Was this not a shambles? Powell was asked. 'Your word, not mine,' came the reply.

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