Regions hit back in player release row

Welsh Rugby Union boss Roger Lewis has been told to "start acting like a chief executive" as the fall-out continues over international player release.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland still does not know when his Test stars will assemble ahead of the autumn series opener against world champions South Africa on November 8.

Wales' four professional regions - Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Newport Gwent Dragons and Scarlets - say players will not be released until five days before the game.

Gatland wants at least three days' additional access next week, and he would then be prepared to send players back to their regions for important EDF Energy Cup fixtures the weekend before Wales face South Africa.

The WRU sought International Rugby Board assistance earlier this week, but the IRB say it is beyond their jurisdiction to step in.

The IRB, although keen to see the issue resolved, announced they cannot get involved in "internal domestic and/or private contractual disputes and/or scenarios".

The verdict came after a three-man regulations committee discussed the matter via telephone conference call.

The WRU have now made another official request for the regions to "honour their contractual obligations" and release all Wales squad players from next Monday.

But the WRU's latest move prompted a furious blast from Regional Rugby Wales interim chief executive David Moffett.

Former WRU chief executive Moffett said: "After two days of calling on Roger Lewis to get round a table so we can strike a solution to this issue, to now just get a mealy-mouthed statement from the WRU press office is a disgrace, and it has taken an IRB ruling to get even that.

"Now is the time when Roger Lewis should be demonstrating his leadership skills and joining us in reaching for an agreement.

"I have phoned him and I've invited him to enter into constructive dialogue with me on behalf of the regions, but his silence is deafening.

"He needs to step up to the plate and start acting like a chief executive so we can agree a way out of this.

"Otherwise, he needs to get out of the way so we can get this thing dealt with quickly by someone else at the WRU."

The WRU said: "The Welsh Rugby Union is contacting its four regions with another official request for them to honour their contractual obligations and release all Wales international squad players for training from Monday, October 27.

"The WRU has been informed by the IRB that it considers the current issue of player release for Wales squad members does not fall within their jurisdiction, and that the IRB will issue no further ruling or guidance.

"The WRU believes the preparation of the national squad for international matches is a top priority for Welsh rugby, and that the reasonable requests of the national coaching team must be delivered.

"The regions have a proud history in the modern game of delivering in these circumstances, and we thank them for that in recognition of the pressures they are under as a result of the demands we all face in the professional era of rugby union."

Regional Rugby Wales has warned that any attempt by the IRB or WRU to force the player release issue could result in legal action by the regions.

RRW said in a statement: "The regions would be forced to release their star players ahead of the EDF Cup games, a competition established and partially organised by the WRU.

"By being forced to field weakened teams, the regions would be likely to argue that this has a serious impact on their commercial and financial position, especially as last year saw a Welsh region (Ospreys) scoop the lucrative title."

The South Africa Test will be Wales' first in Cardiff since victory over France last March secured the RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee