Welsh Union launches final appeal to regions

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The Independent Online

Welsh rugby chiefs want a resolution today to the issue of international player release before next month's Millennium Stadium clash against South Africa.

The Welsh Rugby Union is content for what they term "a compromise release schedule" to be implemented.

If agreed, it would mean Wales coach Warren Gatland seeing his Test squad next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before sending them back to their regions ahead of the final EDF Energy Cup group games.

As things stand, the regions - Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons - don't intend releasing their players until Monday week, five days before Wales meet the world champion Springboks.

The International Rugby Board yesterday ruled itself out of entering the fray, saying any intervention was beyond its jurisdiction.

And the WRU has now appealed to the regions to answer "a final request" to attend a meeting on the matter this morning.

In a statement, the WRU said: "The WRU has stated they are prepared to talk to any (regional) representative with decision-making authority at an agreed venue this morning.

"The WRU request follows a series of letters to the regions during the week asking for them to adhere to a compromise release schedule put forward on Wednesday, October 15.

"That compromise schedule asks the regions to release their players for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before being released from international training on Thursday and Friday to prepare for their weekend games.

"Regions are reminded that a draft Participation Agreement is now being finalised, and all discussions related to that important contract can take place according to previously agreed schedules.

"For that reason, the WRU is urging the regions, in the interests of Welsh rugby, to regard player release as an isolated issue which must be resolved today."

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