Wales’ four professional sides and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have put pen to paper on a new financial package designed to enable sustainability and growth over the next six years.
The Professional Rugby Board (PRB) announced on Friday (31/03/23) that it has signed a new long-form Professional Rugby Agreement (PRA), with all parties – the WRU, Cardiff Rugby, the Dragons, the Ospreys and the Scarlets – bound by its terms until 2029.
The new PRA provides a financial framework which is made up of new funding from the WRU and club shareholders to create a sustainable platform for progress.
It provides financial predictability for the professional game in Wales and is welcomed by all PRB members.
Homegrown player development will be a key objective for all parties as the new PRA is designed to promote success for both the professional club game and the Welsh international side.
This latest news comes on the back of PRB chair Malcolm Wall confirming legally-binding Standard Form Contracts are already being issued to players giving a high degree of certainty and clarity to Wales’ professional rugby players in a universally consistent manner, for the first time.
Key features of the new PRA, which is reliant upon certain external approvals related to existing loan arrangements, include:
- Salary caps to be introduced from season 2023/24
- Two kinds of contracts will be offered namely fixed contracts and those with both a fixed and variable element, where the variable element is linked to appearances and performances
- All contracts will be held by a central clearing house to monitor spend, ensure contract compliance and effect a new player-loan system across clubs
- Contracts for players of national interest will be agreed by the club and the WRU Performance Director
- The clubs are committed to a minimum spend on player academies
- All clubs are subject to regular audits of squad expenditures, contracts, business plans and academy performance
- The clubs are committed to centralising aspects of their commercial operations, with work already in process in this area
“It is no exaggeration to say a great deal of work, time and effort has gone into establishing an agreement all parties can be happy with and which is designed to achieve the very best results for Welsh professional rugby from the resources available to us,” said PRB chair Wall.
“The Directors of each of our professional sides, the executive staff at the WRU and my fellow Independent Non-Executive Director MarianneØkland all deserve credit for enabling Welsh rugby to reach this critically important moment.
“We also can’t let this moment pass without marking the important role our sadly departed colleague and friend Peter Thomas CBE played in sustaining professional rugby in the Welsh capital during his lifetime and in helping us reach this significant point in our history.”
Welsh Rugby Players Association CEO Gareth Lewis, who attends all PRB meetings, has also welcomed the agreement after playing a key role in the formation of the new contracts on offer and recently negotiating changes to the WRU national squad selection policy i.e. the number of international caps a player will be expected to have won before being free to play outside Wales – and still be available for selection by Wales – has been reduced to 25.
The Professional Rugby Board comprises representatives from each of the five professional entities in Welsh rugby – four regional representatives, Alun Jones (Cardiff Rugby), David Buttress (Dragons), Chris Lawlor (Ospreys) and Simon Muderack (Scarlets), acting WRU CEO Nigel Walker, WRU finance director Tim Moss and two independent members, being Malcolm Wall, as chair, and Marianne Økland.
WRU CEO Walker added: “Our objective has been to achieve a sustainable future for our four professional sides and for Wales and credit must go to all involved now this has been achieved.
“The cooperation between the WRU, our professional clubs and the WRPA has been a vitally important part of this process and we will continue to work together for the future benefit of Welsh rugby.
“We now have a structure which will provide a backdrop of stability from which we can build.”