'Welsh rugby regions must stay united in dealing with WRU'
ANSWERS are set to be demanded at a meeting of Wales's four rugby regions today amid suggestions the Blues are bound for talks with the Welsh Rugby Union over their plea for help in retaining Sam Warburton and Leigh Halfpenny.
The capital city outfit have asked for their share of the £1 million the union have set aside to assist the country's professional teams.
Warburton and Halfpenny have attracted the interest of leading French clubs, but the pair have indicated to their region that they are keen to stay in Wales. But the Blues need top-ups from the governing body to augment the money they are able to offer themselves.
They believe unless the matter is dealt with urgently they will lose their two prized assets. The problem is the regions have agreed to act collectively and only last week recoiled at the conditions the WRU set in place for the release of the seven-figure sum, conditions that reportedly included a demand that they sign an extension to the participation agreement, which expires this December.
That hasn't stopped Arms Park chiefs from calling on the union to release their share of the earmarked cash.
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis has reportedly responded by contacting Blues chairman Peter Thomas and chief executive Richard Holland to suggest an urgent meeting to discuss the funding question.
The other regions are likely to want to know what's going on, with the Ospreys having Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones and Ian Evans out of contract this summer and Jonathan Davies and Rhys Priestland becoming free agents at the Scarlets at the end of the season.
All the regions want their best players to stay in Wales, but they also apparently agreed on a united front in their dealings with the WRU.
"My understanding is there is a legally binding agreement that prevents individual regions from acting unilaterally in these matters," said Ospreys chief executive Andrew Hore.
"There are two major issues that need to be resolved.
"The first is the matter of the extra funds the WRU have said they are making available.
"There's also the dispute with ERC to consider and all its implications.
"These are both complex questions and we are the same as anyone else in wanting them to be resolved as quickly as possible to benefit all parties.
"But I think we need to work together as regions.
"We all have outstanding players we want to retain."