Rugby Union: Watkins offers evidence to WRU

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The Independent Online
DAVID WATKINS, the chairman of Newport, yesterday offered to reveal the wheelings and dealings of players in Welsh club rugby to the Welsh Rugby Union, writes Rob Cole.

Watkins, the former Wales fly-half and rugby league international, is the first club official to offer to break the silence shrouding the 'shamateurism' issue.

'If the WRU want to know what's going on, all they have to do is to get me and the other chairmen of the clubs together and we'd tell them everything,' Watkins said.

'We've lost 11 players already and I'm refusing to sign transfer forms for two players to go to other First Division clubs and if the WRU want the reasons why, I will tell them. There's a point of principle here.

'I don't know how much the WRU know, but a meeting with them would confirm some of the rumours over breaches of the amateur regulations. We have to decide if rugby union is going to be a professional game or not.

'You have situations where current international players are moving from the First Division to the fifth. I wonder why? The Union should interview those players.

'I don't think rugby union can sustain a professional game. We are losing money at Newport, and some clubs are close to folding.'

Vernon Pugh, the chairman of the WRU, leaves for Australia tomorrow to investigate abuses of amateurism in Australasia, but said he would meet Watkins on his return. 'I would very much welcome it if someone would be prepared to put his hands up and provide evidence. There's no point in laying down the law to the Australians if we cannot put our own house in order.'