Rhys Williams welcomes Welsh rugby peace deal

Wales prop Gethin Jenkins (nearest in red) and hooker Ken Owens beside him are two players who could be offered dual contracts
Wales prop Gethin Jenkins (nearest in red) and hooker Ken Owens beside him are two players who could be offered dual contracts

Former Wales full-back Rhys Williams has welcomed the news that the Welsh Rugby Union and its four regions are set to sign a new deal.

The last participation agreement ended in June amid fierce dispute between the two camps over funding and control.

Williams, the Welsh Rugby Players' Associationexternal-link president, hopes Welsh rugby can now move on.

"This is the news that everyone has been waiting for, for a number of months now," Williams said.

"It's unfortunate we were ever put in this position... but really it was high time that it had been agreed, it shouldn't have been left until the last minute before the start of the season.

"With all the uncertainty that's been going on for several months now, a little bit of certainty and an agreement between our biggest stakeholders in our national game is a positive bit of news."

Reports suggest that part of the proposed new agreement will see nine players signed up on dual contracts, joining Wales captain Sam Warburton who was the only Welsh player to sign a central contract with the WRU.

The stars set for joint WRU-regions contracts?
Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones
Dragons number eight Taulupe Faletau
Blues prop Gethin Jenkins
Scarlets hooker Ken Owens
Blues utility back Gareth Anscombe
WRU employee Sam Warburton
Blues wing Alex Cuthbert
Scarlets centre Scott Williams
Scarlets back-three player Liam Williams
Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar

Forwards Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) and Ken Owens (Scarlets), plus backs Alex Cuthbert (Blues), Scott Williams, Liam Williams (both Scarlets) and Dan Biggar (Ospreys) are the current Wales players understood to be in line for dual deals.

The backs could include Blues recruit Gareth Anscombe, the uncapped New Zealand-born player who will not arrive in Wales until October.

"It'll be interesting whether the players have been talked to about this, exactly how [they will be] training, exactly how the agreement will function going forward," said Rhys Williams, who won 44 caps for Wales.

"The player dynamic does come into this in terms of the squad."

If the deal goes ahead, funding for the 10 will be in addition to an annual £6.7m shared between Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons.

Several leading players have left Wales in recent seasons for big-money moves to play in France or England, with the Welsh regions claiming to be unable to match the wages on offer elsewhere.

British and Irish Lions players Leigh Halfpenny, Richard Hibbard and Jonathan Davies are among the players to have left, joining the likes of Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips and Luke Charteris abroad.

Williams is optimistic that a new deal can go some way to plugging the drain on talent and will benefit all those involved in the game in Wales.

"Inevitably as a representative body we're looking after the players' welfare, so the higher profile players we keep in Wales it's better for the national game, the regional game and obviously us," Williams added.