Former chief David Moffett writes to WRU member clubs

Former WRU chief David Moffett
Former WRU chief David Moffett

David Moffett has written to the Welsh Rugby Union's clubs to outline his plan to end the row with the Welsh regions.

The former WRU and Regional Rugby Wales chief executive says he has emailed his letterexternal-link to all 320 member clubs.

The letter headed "the Future of Welsh Rugby" is part of Moffett's bid to stand for election as WRU chairman.

New Zealander Moffett, who arrived in Wales on Wednesday, claims he could broker "a sustainable agreement with the Regions in ten days."

"I believe I can broker an honest, transparent and sustainable agreement with the Regions in 10 days," Moffett wrote.

"This would be a win/win result for all parties.

The WRU and the Welsh regions are locked in a bitter row over funding, the exodus of Welsh players and an Anglo Welsh league.

He claims he has returned to Wales to resolve "the current impasse between your Union and the Regions".

During Moffett's tenure as WRU chief executive, Welsh rugby's elite tier was controversially reduced from nine to five teams for the launch of regional rugby in 2003.

A year later one of those teams, Celtic Warriors - a merger of Bridgend and Pontypridd rugby clubs - closed down amid more controversy.

That left Ospreys, Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons and Cardiff Blues as the nation's leading teams.

Having criticised Roger Lewis's stewardship of the WRU, Moffett returned to Wales as chief executive of the regions' umbrella body Regional Rugby Wales in October 2008 amid the regions' row with the WRU over the release of players for Wales international training sessions.

That row ended with the union winning a High Court ruling, forcing the regions to release players for training ahead of the opening 2008 Autumn Test against South Africa.

Moffett left in May, 2009 and was succeeded by former Scarlets chief Stuart Gallacher.

Now back in Wales again, Moffett has outlined his three-point plan to end the current deadlock between both parties, including his pledge to stand against current WRU chairman David Pickering.

He states he would scrap the "participation agreement" which the regions recently refused to sign and which binds them legally to the WRU.

"The first thing I would do if I am able to return to the Union is set aside the behemoth Participation Agreement and concentrate on the real issues," writes Moffett.

"It is abundantly clear that the WRU and Regions are suffering huge inequalities in funding compared to all other Unions," Moffett adds in his email.

"This has got dramatically worse since the announcement of the new Premier Rugby and Top 14 TV deals.

"We have already seen a huge exodus of our best players to France and England.

"No matter what happens this will get worse," he said.

He claims he would puts Wales interests first and look to help Ireland and Scotland but claims "Italy should be assisted by their next door neighbours France."

At the same time, Moffett states he would end the WRU's " insane practice" of paying off debts early and would renegotiate its bank loan.

"There is no point in being debt free with Welsh Rugby in tatters," he said.

He claims the WRU can forget about the regions agreeing to any kind of central contracts for Welsh players.

"Unfortunately the WRU, along with so many other Unions, dropped that ball in 1995 when the game went 'Open' and there is no prospect of the Regions giving up any control of the players in the current toxic environment," writes Moffett.

"The WRU does have almost unfettered access to the players and Warren Gatland has said he does not need any more access.

"There is however an argument to be made that in Wales neither the WRU nor the Regions can compete with France and England on their own."

The New Zealander says the relationship between the WRU and the regions is at the heart of Welsh rugby's current row.

"The relationship between the WRU and Regions is toxic, divisive, lacking in trust and respect for each other," writes Moffett.

He continued: "A genuine partnership between the WRU and Regions is required to ensure a sustainable and successful future at all levels of Welsh Rugby."

The regions had already written to clubsexternal-link stressing they "remain totally committed to working with the WRU to secure a sustainable and competitive future for professional rugby in Wales". That had been preceded by the regions accusing the WRU of a "vitrolic attack" in the governing body's letter to all 320 member clubs.

The three-page WRU letter made 50 bullet points to outline its view of the state of play between the two sides and said the WRU intended to present a new agreement to the regions.

The next full WRU elections take place in August 2014 and Moffett would need nomination and backing at club level to be able to stand for election as WRU chairman.