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Regions pushing for say on Gatland's successor.

Byline: ANDY HOWELL andy.howell@walesonline.co.uk

THE four Welsh regions have requested a say in who succeeds Warren Gatland as Wales coach, the Western Mail can reveal today.

The extraordinary development is understood to be a major factor in the breakdown in relations between the Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons, and the Welsh Rugby Union.

We have also been told Regional Rugby Wales (RRW), the umbrella organisation which represents the regions, wants input into the appointment of any future WRU chief executive and head of rugby.

Those roles are currently occupied by Roger Lewis and former rugby league star Joe Lydon.

The situation flared up after the establishment of the Professional Regional Game Board (PRGB), a body created following the damning report by accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers into the state of the regional game.

The WRU view the main function of the new nine-man board - made up of four WRU representatives, four from the regions and neutral chairman Mr Justice Wyn Williams - as being to improve the way the regions are run as businesses and breathe new life into the domestic elite game.

But it has emerged the regions would like it to become a forum for making more high-profile decisions over the running of the whole of rugby in Wales, such as the appointment of the national coach and other key positions in the WRU hierarchy.

The union have recoiled at that prospect, seeing it as a threat to their own executive board which they are adamant will continue to control the sport in line with the governing body's constitution.

We have obtained a copy of a letter this week sent to all of Wales' 314 rugby clubs by the WRU outlining its position.

The union has also written to each of the four regions offering them the chance to address the full, elected board of the WRU at its monthly meeting next Thursday. They are awaiting a response.

Both sets of letters were posted in response to a claim from RRW that the union had "reneged" on a deal to set up the PRGB with an independent chairman.

WRU chiefs have balked at the idea of the regions having the level of power in decision making that they appear to be seeking, remaining insistent that every major decision has to be signed off by its current full board of directors, the district members who are elected by the clubs.

The union is adamant the PRGB, which met just once, was established on the proviso of improving the business operations and income streams of Wales' ailing four regions, not to tackle constitutional issues and the governance of the game.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the WRU and RRW representatives is believed to have made clear the PRGB could never replace the full board of the governing body.

But when RRW produced its extra demands, alarm bells went off at the union's Millennium Stadium headquarters.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 12, 2013
Words:488
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