29.1.2003 Constitutional clauses cause controversy
[icWales] DAVID MOFFETT last night rounded on Llanelli chief executive Stuart Gallacher, accusing him of suffering from NIMBY syndrome.
Gallacher has revealed Llanelli's rejection of a proposed partnership with Swansea, saying, "Our position at Llanelli is simple - we want to stand alone. Going into a 50-50 partnership with Swansea would weaken us.
"There is no way we want to take on their debts, we do not want 50 per cent of their playing squad and we have no room for their coaching staff. Most significantly of all, there is no way our fans would go and watch the Scarlet Sharks at St Helen's."
Moffett says Gallacher is wrong in his belief that mergers or takeovers are part of the WRU chief executive's proposals.
"We are talking about teams that represent regions of Wales. That means they would be representative teams. We are not talking about mergers or takeovers. The regional teams would be professional and the clubs would continue to have their own distinct identities.
"Those that successfully bid for franchises would control the day-to-day running of the teams because we don't want anyone duplicating overheads.
"But the disappointing thing about what Stuart Gallacher has said is that he is happy to see the potential benefits of resources being combined elsewhere, but he is not prepared to accept the same concept for Llanelli.
"That's a typical NIMBY - not in my back yard - attitude but everyone else can have it."
But while the machinations over Welsh rugby's future continued, the realisation has dawned on Moffett and other WRU chiefs that they would need a 75 per cent majority at an extraordinary general meeting of clubs to back the idea of provincial teams.
The WRU articles of association state, "Each member (club) shall, with the exception of colleges and universities, take part in all competitions organised by the company (WRU)."
Moffett's problem is that his proposed regional teams would not play in the Welsh league and Principality Cup competitions organised by the WRU.
Provinces would play in the Heineken Cup, which is run by European Rugby Cup Ltd and the Celtic League, administered by Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
The problem clause was written into the WRU constitution in the wake of Cardiff and Swansea's 1998-1999 rebel season as a tool to help prevent a repeat of their action.
But as with the 10-year loyalty agree-ments with premier clubs that could scupper progress, that clause could help also now help block Moffett's plans.
Moffett said, "The WRU is aware of the constitutional situation and looking into how we would go about addressing it."
Pontypridd chief executive Gareth Thomas said, "This 75 per cent factor adds a new twist to the situation. It's a far bigger majority to win from WRU member clubs than 51 per cent."
Only 60 clubs - 25 per cent - would have to vote against the constitutional change to block progress towards provinces.