Rugby Union: Strike threat from top Welsh clubs

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THE top eight rugby clubs in Wales are threatening to strike in protest at plans to force them to sign a new loyalty agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union.

The clubs, who meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation, are angry that the WRU have told them that unless they sign new 10-year agreements they will not be allowed to take part in European competitions next season.

WRU agreements would be in return for television and sponsorship money, but the clubs claim they face bankruptcy unless they are given more leeway to decide their own destinies.

"Premier Division sides will receive an average of pounds 400,000 each from the WRU this season - only half the amount we would have if we shared out all the proceeds raised by the tournaments we play in," said the Pontypridd manager, Eddie Jones.

"Far from being greedy, we are subsidising the First Division but we feel we have to be given more responsibility for running these competitions."

A strike would destroy next week's full league programme, in which all eight clubs are scheduled to play.

Seven of the clubs have until 1 May to sign new contracts, while Cardiff are holding out against any loyalty commitment.

They have already threatened to quit Welsh rugby and join their counterparts in the English Allied Dunbar League.

Ireland a stunned a big crowd in Toulouse yesterday, beating host nation France 18-0 in the World Youth Cup final.

The Irish lock Damien Broughall was inspirational, controlling the line- outs and shining in the loose.

Stand-off Pat Wallace went over for Ireland after eight minutes, with Brian O'Driscoll converting. An O'Driscoll penalty was then followed by a drop goal from Wallace, before Darragh Holt sealed the victory with a try at the death.