3:06pm Monday 7th October 2013
WALES' four regions are stuck between a rock and a hard place after being told by the Welsh Rugby Union that they are risking their futures if they refuse to sign a new participation agreement, writes Chris Kirwan.
Newport Gwent Dragons, the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets are reluctant to pen a fresh deal as they are uncertain what competitions they will be playing in.
An agreement is due to be agreed by the end of the year but there are doubts about the future of European rugby after English and French clubs declared that they are leaving the Heineken Cup to set up the Champions Cup.
If the Heineken Cup collapses then the regions would lose £4.4million per season but WRU chief executive Roger Lewis has urged the quartet to sign up.
"We agreed with the regions in 2009 that the new agreement going forward would be signed between July of this year and December of this year, and it would continue on the same terms and conditions from next year, 2014 through to 2019," he said on the BBC's Scrum V programme.
"We now await that, because without that there's no certainty for the regions, and no certainty for ourselves.
"The four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union agreed this timescale. And together the four regions and the WRU agreed the process going forward and we all know that if one doesn't sign an agreement, well, there is no region, and that is the consequence of not signing an agreement.
"I don't want that to happen, I don't think the four regions want that to happen, but if that's the case we then have to think what is the future for professional rugby in Wales."
There have been some suggestions that the regions could join the English and French in the Champions Cup or even that they could leave the Pro12 to join the Aviva Premiership, breaking away from the Union.
"Well, that means they would not be playing in Europe, they would not be playing in Rabo (Pro12)," said Lewis.
"They'd not be receiving the monies off the Welsh Rugby Union, they would not have insurance off the Welsh Rugby Union for their players and they would not have any referees."
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