June International Tours

Wales training problems continue ahead of Springbok Test


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With less than three weeks to go before the Test between Wales and South Africa at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff there is a real possibility that Wales coach Warren Gatland will have only five days to prepare his side for the Test.

The squabble between club and country has not abated.

The four Welsh regions have again upset the apple cart with utterances which have forced the Wales Rugby Union (WRU) and Gatland (pictured) to reply with hard-hitting statements.

According to the regions’ statement, an agreement over player release was “unlikely” in the short term.

The regions also defended their precedent on player release and accused the WRU of “shifting the goalposts” regarding, amongst other things, the release of players for the EDF Energy Cup.

Initially Gatland requested training for his national players to commence after next weekend’s round of EDF Energy Cup fixtures in preparation for the Springbok Test (and subsequent internationals) on November 8.

However, with the regions potentially facing semifinal spots when the pool stages conclude (between October 31 and November 2) the Welsh boss looks to be fighting an uphill battle.

The WRU issued a statement of their own on Friday after being made aware of the Regions’ stern objectives.

“Anyone who cares about Welsh rugby will be disappointed to discover that the four regions have decided to go about their business in this way,” said a WRU spokesman.

“We regard the (regions’) statement as inaccurate and misleading and will be addressing these points with the individuals concerned.

“Over recent months there have been numerous meetings between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions looking forward towards a new participation agreement aimed at nurturing and developing elite rugby in Wales.

“The latest of those meetings took place this week and the Welsh Rugby Union regards the talks on a range of relevant issues to be progressing well.

“Therefore we are surprised at the sudden recourse to public statements but will refrain from engaging in detailed debate outside the format of formal negotiation.

“The Welsh Rugby Union remains determined to secure a participation agreement which will benefit the whole of rugby in Wales and ensure that our regions continue to develop and grow as competitive forces on the European and world stage.”

Gatland issued the following statement in response to the statement by the four Welsh Regions: “I am saddened at the suggestion that I was asked to speak out on the player release issue by the WRU on their behalf. To put it bluntly, I am big enough and ugly enough to speak out on my own behalf.

“Everyone knows that five days preparation is insufficient for a major international and that is not questioned by the Regions or their executives.

“My focus is straightforward in that I want adequate preparation time for the players selected to represent Wales and nothing more,” Gatland added.

Sapa – Rugbyweek.com

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