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Project Reset - Big changes in Welsh rugby

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Post by LordDowlais Wed 11 Jul 2018, 5:19 pm

First topic message reminder :

We have all heard about this, or at least if you have not, then you must have been out of the country for a while, but it looks as though the fab four are going to get extra funding from the WRU next season to help compete, whilst all the debts look like they will be written off one way or another, whilst being funded with an extra £2.4million each. This is taken from the WOL, a media source that for whatever reason people on here get on their high horse about, but that is their right. I will post the whole article and link on here for people to read and then make their own minds up.

But I think this is worth discussion, as this is excelent news for the regions, and it will hopefully stop the whinging we are seeing for the fans about funding and a level playing field.

Project Reset uncovered: the confidential new deal that's going to change Welsh rugby forever

Things will soon be changing in Welsh rugby

It’s a term which has been bandied around increasingly in Welsh rugby circles in recent months - Project Reset.

You often hear it mentioned in almost half-whispered tones and there’s certainly an element of mystery surrounding it.

So what exactly is this project all about? What is it looking to achieve and why is it so important to the future of the professional game in Wales?

Rugby correspondent Simon Thomas has been digging away behind the scenes and now provides the answers.

So what exactly is Project Reset?

Well, as the name suggests, it’s really a refresh or a fresh start.

The idea was to look at the professional game in Wales and decide on the best way forward.

Almost inevitably, that would involve replacing the existing Rugby Services Agreement between the WRU and the four regions.

The Union opted to bring in a consultant by the name of David Lovett to look at the state of the game and offer some financial expertise and an independent pair of eyes.

Essentially, what he concluded was the regional game needs more money.

It was with this in mind that the Union set about looking at how that could be achieved and what form the new deal should take.

What’s the existing arrangement then?

It’s all laid out in the Rugby Services Agreement.

That was the peace deal which was struck between the Union and the regions in August 2014 to bring an end to more than a year of civil war.

It was due to run through to 2020, but the feeling for a while has been that it’s not really fit for the current situation.

For one thing, it was born out of a period of distrust and animosity, whereas we now have a mood of relative harmony.

It also didn’t really provide sufficient financial clout for our regions to be able to compete consistently with French, English and Irish big spenders.

So, Project Reset has focused on putting a new agreement in place, ideally before the end of this summer.

How is the new deal going to be different?

Well, for one thing it’s going to have a new name.

It will be called the Professional Rugby Agreement.

So it’s goodbye to the RSA and hello to the PRA.

The new deal is yet to be signed off, but the word is we are very close and it’s going to be a very different kind of arrangement.

The key aspect now will be everyone working together.

The way the RSA was phrased was something of an “us and them” approach or even master and pupil. It was a case of “you will do this” to a degree.

Now the idea is to move from control to collective thinking.

The central element of the new plan is how the five entities - Union and four regions - can work together for the betterment of the professional game.

With this in mind, a set of criteria were drawn up towards the end of last year.

Four areas were identified - governance, coaching, commercial and development/community.

The idea was that all five entities had to meet prescribed targets in those areas ahead of a new funding model being put in place.

And that’s what we’ve seen happening over the past few months.

Part of the agreement is that the PRA should be a completely fresh start.

As such, one of the requirements was that the regional balance sheets should be cleaned up.

We have seen that happening at Cardiff Blues, where Peter Thomas has agreed to write off the estimated £14m he has poured into the business over the years.

He is also stepping down as chairman as part of the aforementioned governance reform.

Down at the Scarlets, letters have gone out to shareholders outlining a proposal for directors loans, totalling more than £8m, to be converted into shares.

Originally, the suggestion was the Union would take an equity share in the regions in return for them clearing their debts.

They have now moved away from that, but the balance sheets are being addressed.

So the groundwork is being laid for the PRA.

What are the financial details of the new deal?
It’s best to start by looking at the current one.

As it stands, the WRU distributes £21m to the regions per year, with £9.2m of that being generated by the teams themselves through the competitions they play in.

That means around £12m coming out of central funds, with that being a payment for services provided, such as making players available for international rugby and sticking to overseas quotas.

There’s an acceptance that more money has to be found if the regions are to be competitive.

With that in mind, an improved funding arrangement deal has already been agreed for next season.

That will see an additional £2.4m going to the regions, with the Scarlets getting the biggest share and the Blues and Ospreys receiving an equal increase.

The Dragons won’t get an uplift as the Union have covered debts incurred over the past year.

It all means for the coming season the Scarlets are set to have a playing budget in excess of £6m, the Ospreys £6.2m, the Blues £6m and the Dragons around £4.5m.

The £2.4m increase comes ahead of the PRA being signed, but it does point to the future funding system.

Under the RSA, the basic principle has been equal distribution, with all four regions getting the same.

Now we are moving to equal opportunity, with the regions being rewarded for performances both on and off the field and for delivering players to the Wales set-up.

They are all drawing up business plans and they will have to meet those, both in terms of results and commercial revenue, to obtain increased funding via the PRA.

Every year, the situation will be reviewed and payments will be based on how the regions are delivering.

Essentially, it will be a reward-based system, with targets to meet in order to release the cash.

Where will the additional funding come from?

In the short-term, the extra £2.4m for next season is made possible by the Union having had a good year financially.

It’s understood their income has gone up from £74m to more than £90m.

But, in the longer term under the PRA, it will be about the pro game generating more income itself.

With this in mind, a new body is to be set up, the Professional Rugby Board.

It will feature one representative from each of the four regions, two from the WRU - probably chief executive Martyn Phillips and finance director Steve Phillips - plus two independents.

That body will be responsible for running the professional game and looking at ways of funding it.

One key element will be the five entities working together to generate more income.

They will operate as one entity to make savings on things like supplies and when it comes to bringing in sponsorship and commercial revenue.

In the long term, there may be a move towards borrowing on the Principality Stadium to bring in extra money.

But first they want to get the businesses working well and staying clear from debt, otherwise it would be a case of throwing good money after bad.

Essentially though, the new deal is all about working collectively and the PRA will outline what the five entities expect of each other.

For once in Welsh rugby, it really does seem we are all in this together.

So no excuses now then, it's onwards and upwards for the regions, we should expect to see significant improvements from the Welsh regions in all competitions next season.

Also, please before certain members on here castigate me, tar and feather me, red line me, for using WOL or for just giving an opinion, can we please resist and discuss this like adults ? I think that this is the most exciting news to hit Welsh rugby since the inception of regionalism. I just hope that along with the funding of the regions, they put as much money into the game beneath the four regions as well.


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Post by PhilBB Mon 16 Jul 2018, 11:11 am

Luckless Pedestrian wrote:His attitude stank. And let's not forget the Western Mail backed him to the hilt.

Parfitt's eulogy to him was proof read by Lewis before publication.

Edmonds was in his awe.

Howell was his normal sycophantic self.

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Post by Luckless Pedestrian Mon 16 Jul 2018, 11:16 am

I still remember that messianic 'peace in our time' front page.

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Post by Stone Motif Mon 16 Jul 2018, 11:19 am

PhilBB wrote:
Luckless Pedestrian wrote:I wonder what Roger Lewis is making of all this. I mean, on the one hand I couldn't give a f*ck what he thinks, but I wonder if he regrets being such a power-crazed ass.

He's an onanist. He won't regret a thing.
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Post by LordDowlais Mon 16 Jul 2018, 11:39 am

Second part of the interview here with Gareth Davies if anyone is interested:-

Welsh rugby chief breaks silence on Project Reset and says WRU previously tried to 'hammer and control' the regions

There are big changes coming in the way Welsh rugby is run.

In the second part of our interview with WRU chairman Gareth Davies, we turn to matters off the field.

There are big changes on the way in Welsh rugby, both at regional level and in the governance of the sport.

Rugby correspondent Simon Thomas finds out more as he talks to former Wales and Lions fly-half Davies.

You can read the first part of the interview, in which Davies reveals the humiliating night in 2016 Welsh rugby chiefs decided things had to change, here.

Q: You’ve been looking at the health of the regional game through what I understand is called Project Reset ( you can read what that is all about here ). What have been your main findings?

A: It needs more money. That was clear.

So we are putting in place a Professional Rugby Board, which basically will be responsible for raising money to fund the pro game.

We obviously have a big asset in town in the stadium, so some people might say why don’t you just borrow more money?

But I have always been nervous about just raising money against the stadium until I can prove that we are working well.

If we are all working collectively together and not haemorrhaging money, which has been the case in the past, then you can start thinking how to raise money long term.

In the immediate term, the question is how can we work together smarter?

If we have the five entities - WRU and the four regions - working together collectively, we can make significant savings.

There has been duplication in the past in terms of supplies to both the region and to Wales.

The five can work together to generate money as well, commercially and through sponsorship.

And what the exercise has proved is that all of us do want to work together.

Q: How close are you to striking a new deal with the regions, a replacement for the Rugby Services Agreement?

A: That’s almost in place.

The previous deal was to hammer people, to control people totally.

We are moving away from the master pupil relationship. We are all in this together. We don’t know any better than the regions, the regions don’t know any better than us. We are trying to work as a team. This is how we behave.

The new Professional Rugby Board will ask for collective thinking and their decisions will be for the betterment of the pro game.

Q: Reforming the governance of the WRU has been a key objective for you in your second term of office. Where are we on that?

A: The board agreed to the parameters back in March. Not everybody, it wasn’t unanimous, but we do work to a cabinet system.

Our legal guys are now putting things together in terms of the fine details and the clubs will vote on the proposals at the AGM on Sunday, October 14.

Before that, my plan is to go out to all the districts again in late August and early September.

They have been told in letter form what the board have agreed to. There will be far more detail now and no doubt other questions.

They will have a chance to quiz us at an open meeting. Rather than just go to the AGM with ten pages of text, we can talk it through with them and have a debate before the AGM.

At the meetings, I want to get the district reps to contribute because it’s not Gareth Davies’ plan, it’s our plan, the board have approved it.

Q: How would you summarise the key aspects of the proposed reform?

A: The board would be reduced in number from 20 to no more than 12 to provide a more streamlined and modernised administration.

The other important part of the change is the separation of the community and the professional game.

As I said, there will be Professional Rugby Board in place, which will run the pro game. It will have to ensure there’s funding in place.

You would also have a Community Rugby Council established.

We would look for that to be more diverse, with more women, people representing disability, all the uncatered areas.

We will get new people on to the council which means over time they feed into the board and make that more diverse too.

I talk to people out there in Wales and they would like to get involved. They just feel at the moment it’s a bit of a closed shop so we are trying to open it up a little bit.

That’s not criticising anybody, it’s just making it more accessible to what should be representative of Wales in terms of rugby. At the moment, I don’t really think it is.

Q: Do you see any issues over the clubs backing the proposals at the AGM?

A: I hope not, but it’s their call at the end of the day if they don’t want to change.

It is important the clubs realise how crucial it is to have an effective governance in terms of the decision-making process.

We are on a good run at the moment and things are going well financially, but we can see some pinch points over the next couple of years.

Those could work against the community game. They would be the ones exposed if something bad happens.

If anything catastrophic did happen to the top end of the game - whether it’s sponsorship or the Six Nations not delivering or losing TV income - it would be the community game that would feel the pain as things stand, by the the nature of contracts being in place for the pro game.

So we are proposing that we will ring-fence the community funding.

We will guarantee them a figure which can only go up. That’s quite important for the community game and I would have thought that’s something they would welcome.

With guaranteed funding, they wouldn’t see a drastic cut in three years time if something dreadful happened.

It’s not a carrot to get them to vote. It’s important for the maintenance and future stability of the game.

Q: With the focus on the new Wales coach and a new deal for the regions, is there a chance that the clubs might feel they are being a bit overlooked or forgotten?

A: They are certainly not forgotten. They are critical for the future of the game.

Having kids playing and working their through the age groups at vibrant community clubs is a key part of the pathway. It starts at five, six, seven years of age.

Ring-fencing the funding of the community game and setting up the Community Council is part of recognising and acknowledging the crucial role the clubs play.

I am glad that he is making some big insurances with regards to funding below the regions.


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Post by PhilBB Mon 16 Jul 2018, 11:47 am

Project Reset - Big changes in Welsh rugby - Page 2 Wmpeac10
Luckless Pedestrian wrote:I still remember that messianic 'peace in our time' front page.

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Post by Luckless Pedestrian Mon 16 Jul 2018, 12:51 pm

That really was a slap in the face to the regions. The biggest obstacle to 'peace' portrayed as the man who brought it about!

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Post by RugbyFan100 Mon 16 Jul 2018, 1:42 pm

Lewis was a true disease on Welsh rugby. He set the sport back about 7 - 8 years. In certain meetings he actually forbade any of the WRU board members to speak unless with his explicit permission - even though he technically had zero right to do so. A shocking appointment, and those who nodded at his wishes or ignored his destruction should also hang their heads in shame.


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