Sam Warburton on dual contract between WRU and Blues

Sam Warburton of Blues and Wales
Warburton was rested for Cardiff Blues' 26-9 defeat to Ulster on Friday

Sam Warburton is the first Welsh player to be given a dual contract, Regional Rugby Wales (RRW) has confirmed.

The Wales captain, 25, was the only player to take up a Welsh Rugby Union central contract while the governing body and the four regions were involved in a lengthy dispute.

A £60m deal ended the row on 28 August.

RRW stated: "Regional Rugby can confirm that Sam moved to a dual contract at the same time as the new Rugby Services Agreement (RSA) was signed."

The concept of a 'national dual contract' was introduced in South Africa and will see the wages of key Wales internationals shared by the WRU and the player's region.

A dual contract means the WRU pay 60% of the deal and the region the remainder.

Warburton was rested for Cardiff Blues' 26-9 defeat by Ulster on Friday, with director of rugby Mark Hammett confirming the decision not to play him was linked to the need to manage the open-side flanker with internationals as well as regional rugby in mind.

Hammett says that under the terms of his new deal Warburton is limited to playing 16 games for his region during the season, although the New Zealander stressed that "we are not told when a player can or can't play".

Wales coach Warren Gatland is pondering which other players will be offered the new-style deals.

They could include uncapped New Zealand-born fly-half Gareth Anscombe who is due to arrive at Cardiff Arms Park this autumn.

Only players representing the four Welsh regions will be offered the deals.

Key points of the new deal
WRU increases regions' funding from £6.7m to £8.7m
Top home-based Test stars to be offered dual contracts
Wales coach Warren Gatland to decide who is offered dual deals, with those players to become WRU employees
Home-based players to be favoured in Wales selection
The £8.7m includes £2m set aside for dual contracts, with regions adding another £1.3m a year
Wales A games to return from January 2015

RRW added: "The dual contract involves the WRU having primacy of contract with the national dual contracted player, but entering into a joint player agreement with the region which confirms the contribution of the player to both the region and the national side according to agreed structures.

"The total cost of the player is then split on a 60:40 basis between WRU and region, which broadly reflects the amount of time an international player is generally available to each party in a given season."

Leigh Halfpenny, now of Toulon, Cardiff Blues' Adam Jones and Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones were among those players who could have signed WRU central contracts amid a protracted and often bitter dispute between the governing body and the regions.

Ospreys, Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons and Blues could now find more of their Wales Test stars switching to dual deals.

Apart from formalising the relationship between players, WRU and regions, the deals are intended to help stem the flow of leading players to English and French clubs.

Grand Slam winners such as Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips, Dan Lydiate, Jonathan Davies, Luke Charteris and Halfpenny are based in France.

English clubs employ George North, James Hook, Richard Hibbard, Paul James, Gavin Henson, Ian Evans, Ryan Jones and Dwayne Peel.

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