The new Rugby Service Agreement

The Rugby Service Agreement is a six-year agreement that runs through until 2020 between the WRU, the four Welsh professional teams and Pro Rugby Wales. It was signed on 28th August 2014.

Key objectives of the Rugby Service Agreement

  • Support sustainable and competitive professional rugby across the national side and the four professional clubs from a limited player resource
  • Ensure the four pro teams have control of their own commercial rights within their competition framework, allowing them to negotiate and determine their own commercial platforms
  • Recognise and share the true cost of developing, retaining and recruiting international players.
  • Retain Welsh players playing in Wales where appropriate and where costs are realistic
  • Reward what we value – the development of professional and international players

Key focus within the agreement:

The four professional teams have made a commitment to a minimum investment of £14m in pro squads, plus £3m in coaching set-ups. In addition, Pro Rugby Wales and the clubs have an ongoing review of the level and structure of the salary cap to ensure we use the additional resource intelligently and responsibly to build strength in depth.

  • The provision of national dual contracts (NDC) has been adopted for the first time to try and keep key players in Wales. The cost for NDCs is via a 60/40% split between Union and pro club and represents the actual time a senior international player spends on national squad duty and with their regional squad. The player is available to the club for 16 games, including all Welsh derbies plus any league or European play-offs.
  • The RSA delivers £8.7m a year to the four professional clubs guaranteed to be spent on Welsh qualified players with a complex matrix of funding also guaranteeing a further £3.6m in loan facilities from the WRU repayable during the term of the RSA.
  • Within the £8.7m an annual sum of £2m from the WRU has been allocated to be spent by the governing body directly on the National Dual Contracts with an additional £1.3m from the Regions added to the annual spend or £3.3m in total. The £3.3m available for National Dual Contracts is purely one element.
  • Wales will also introduce a new senior policy which declares that players based outside the country will not be eligible for selection subject to a number of exceptions made by the national head coach.
  • The RSA also limits the number of foreign players in regional squads to a maximum of six while each region will be allowed two time-serving players who will be available for Welsh selection after three years residency. The key principle for non-Welsh qualified players is to provide a “core” of experienced squad players that can anchor performance, particularly during international periods and provide the platform to develop our younger players at a senior regional level. Experience over the period of the previous agreement has illustrated that 6 + 2 is the very minimum necessary to achieve these two aims.
  • There is a commitment to work together on coherent succession planning and identify the gaps in the development pathways that require intelligent recruitment for the future at regional and international level.
  • RSA is formulated around rugby protocols which define a collaborative approach between Wales and the regional coaching and backroom teams to ensure the best Welsh qualified players are identified, nurtured and retained.
  • The RSA transfers management of and responsibility for the four Regional Academies for emerging talent in Wales from the WRU to the four Regions with a £600,000 contribution towards costs each year from the WRU in line with a proposal included in the 2009 Participation Agreement. This is designed to devolve and further accelerate the already successful development of Welsh talent.
  • Within the RSA the WRU retains the right to play up to 13 senior international games each year with a 13-day release facility for squad training before the Six Nations and Autumn series games.
  • Relevant provisions of the RSA will be monitored and managed through the Professional Regional Game Board. The chairman of the PRGB holds a casting vote on mutually agreed issues of interest with the exception of certain reserved WRU matters.
  • Additional elements of the new agreement include the potential return of the Wales ‘A’ team with a possible fixture each year on the weekend prior to the Six Nations kick off. This is subject to no competitive clashes and designed to contribute to succession planning and development pathway.
  • Regional support for the importance of the sevens game is also recognised with the terms of the RSA guaranteeing that up to three players from each pro team will be available for Wales sevens selection.
  • The agreement contains a range of protocols which focus on Welsh qualified players who are based in Wales at any of the four professional teams. The protocols are designed to ensure that the Player Management environment for players playing in Wales is the very best in club and International rugby and adds real value.
  • All club squad players will take part in training camps at the WRU National Centre of Excellence each year as part of the collaborative partnership represented in the RSA.
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    Current NDC (16) players are: Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Jon Davies (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Dan Baker (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Bradley Davies (Ospreys). Tyler Morgan (Dragons Rugby), Hallam Amos (Dragons Rugby), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), James King (Ospreys).