News broke this afternoon that Wales Captain Sam Warburton has signed the very first central contract in Welsh professional rugby. The ‘WRU National Contract’ is reported to last until the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. Warburton remains contracted to the Cardiff Blues until the end of this season and WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis has said today that the player will be released to his home region outside of the international window.
It remains to be seen whether other soon-to-be-out-of-contract players such as Adam Jones, Rhys Priestland and Scott Williams will follow Warburton’s lead (after all this may be Wales’ first and last central contract) but the fact that it has been signed at all is nothing short of historic. Since the dawn of professionalism in 1995, there has been a clear and unflinching opposition to central contracts from (firstly) the leading Welsh clubs and then regions. Now that the Wales and Lions captain has broken Welsh rugby’s greatest taboo, the future administration of leading Welsh players seems much more open than it did twenty-four hours ago.
For the full-story go to http://www.wru.co.uk/eng/news/29382.php#.UuPz47TLfIU