Welsh Rugby Union set to make its next move on regional row

The Welsh Rugby Union meet on Thursday to discuss the row that could see the nation's regions breaking away.

The WRU's deadline for the four regions to sign a new legal agreement passed without any deal being reached.

The WRU responded strongly,  hinting it could set up new teams if the regions seek to play in English Premiership.

The regions' unity could be tested if the WRU offer to fund them according to the number of international players they produce.

Amid the impasse, the union is now free to draw up a new Participation Agreement (PA) for the regions to consider. 

Under the current arrangement, around £6m is split equally between Ospreys, Scarlets, Cardiff Blues and Newport Gwent Dragons regardless of the number of Test players they produce.

The equal split has long been a bone of contention for some of the regions who feel they deserve more recognition for their efforts to benefit the national side.

Altering the way that money is distributed was alluded to in the WRU's New Year's Eve statement.

It read: "The decision of the existing regional organisations not to continue with the PA has now freed the WRU to present a new participation agreement focused on recognising and rewarding regions which identify, develop and retain players capable of challenging for international honours with Wales.

"This is in the best interests of Welsh rugby."

In the last match played by Wales, against Australia in December, Scarlets and Ospreys provided seven each of the 23-man squad, Blues five and Dragons one.

The regions rejected the current PA because of what they saw as unfavourable financial terms and concern over the future of the major tournaments they play in - the Pro12 and the European competitions.

They also gave an end of January deadline for agreement on an alternative European Cup - run by the Six Nations Committee and first proposed by the English clubs - called the Rugby Champions Cup.

If no agreement is reached the regions could seek to play in the English Premiership from 2014-15.

Meanwhile, Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies has questioned the WRU's stance.

He said: "Hand-on-heart, do they [WRU directors] actually agree with what's going on?"

Davies fears the game's future could once more head to the civil courts.

Alluding to the WRU winning a 2008 High Court fight over player release for Wales games, Davies said: "If this does go to court as has been suggested, a High Court judge stuck up in London is going to decide the future of Welsh rugby - the second time [in recent] years for the governing body.

"And I think that's a huge concern or should be a huge concern for the directors of the WRU that High Court judges are deciding on the future of the game."