Players could force new Welsh deal, says Adrian Hadley

Regional rugby fans campaigning for an end to the row between the WRU and the Regions.

Former Wales wing Adrian Hadley says players could force a deal between the four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

The union wants the regions to sign a new participation deal by 31 December.

But the BBC understands they will reject it.

"If the players went to the Welsh Rugby Union and said: 'Unless this is sorted either way, we are not playing in the Six Nations Championship,' it would be interesting to see how quickly they get round the table," Hadley said.

An exodus of leading Welsh players to higher-paying clubs in England and France has formed the backdrop to a bitter dispute over who controls the professional game in Wales - and who decides how money is negotiated and shared out.

There is also turmoil over the future of European competition.

Leading English clubs have said they will not take part in the Heineken Cup next season, although England's RFU are understood to be working to resolve that.

Meanwhile in Wales, the new participation agreement, which the WRU wants signed by the end of 2013, would replace the current five-year deal that expires in June 2014.

The deal would tie the regions into playing in the Pro12 and Heineken Cup and making players available for international matches, while setting out the funding coming from the WRU for the next five years.

But BBC Wales Sport has been told Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets will not sign because they believe the funding on offer is inadequate.

And the impasse between the WRU and the four teams could see the regions step up their pursuit of playing in an Anglo-Welsh competition next season.

Despite the stand-off, and with time running out, Hadley is still hopeful a deal can be done, especially with pressure from players.

"I think it can happen if the Welsh Rugby Union and the Welsh regions get together and slug out a deal," he said.

Leading Wales-based players are said to be frustrated by the row, and a delegation met the WRU on 16 December. Afterwards, Scarlets centre Gareth Maule said they needed to "hope and pray that things are sorted sooner rather than later".

They say they cannot make decisions over their futures without knowing what competitions the regions will be playing in next season.

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland is one of those whose contract expires at the end of the season.

He recently said the uncertainty had put him and others in a difficult position.

"It's very hard to make a decision when you don't know what's going on," said Priestland.

"I'm not sure we can expect players to commit themselves to something when nobody has a clue what's going on.

"It's not just me in that situation. I think there are a few players who feel quite frustrated at the moment."

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