Wales Online today have released a story that notes the WRU are only willing to offer £250,000 per annum to Liam Williams, as part of a National Dual Contract. Of course, the article doesn’t go on to note whether that sum is just what the WRU will pay or the total of the annual salary.
National Dual Contracts see the WRU take primacy of contract of the player in question despite paying only 60% of his salary. The other 40% is paid by his club / region / pro team / whatever you want to call them. Interestingly enough, despite holding primacy of contract, these players are not listed in the WRU Annual Report as part of the staff numbers or staff costs. Make of that what you will.
The issue with NDCs is that the WRU have a fixed pot to play with, which means that their 60% is fixed. It cannot be altered. It is maxed out. The other party to the contract, therefore, is limited by what it can offer because of the fixed WRU element.
Think this one through: say the Turks are happy to free up £180,000 per annum of their own salary bill for Williams. However, if the WRU will pay only 60% of £250,000 (£150,000), the Turks are forced to pay £100,000. Williams might walk to play for Saracens for £300,000 and the claim will be “there’s no money in Wales to keep him”. However, in this example, there was £330,000 to keep him in Wales – £150k from the WRU and £180k from the Turks.
This rigid stupidity of contractual terms shows the idiocy of the NDC set up. As was basically revealed in the last WRU Annual Report, Lewis signed up the WRU to be financially run by Barclays for his entire time at the WRU. That crazy agreement saw the talent drain from Wales and the obvious knock on effect of the weakening of our Pro Teams from 2010 onwards. Such was this stranglehold by Barclays, unnecessarily strong, Lewis could not afford to commit to pay more for the services provided by the Pro Teams in Wales. This meant that our four teams were receiving millions less per year than their Irish and Scottish counterparts, whilst receiving similar recompense to the English teams despite there being three times as many of them to share the workload.
The Barclays agreement prevented more money being annually paid out but did allow for any “surplus” to be spent. Lewis called it inventory. Whilst he sharpened his saw. Whilst reflecting whilst looking forward. Clown.
The nature of this ‘surplus’ is what has ended up as NDC money. Rather than using it wisely as a ‘top up’ pot, it has been stuck to this rigid 60/40 model of primacy of contract (despite not being officially listed as WRU employees, remember).
There is zero need for the WRU to hold 60% of the contract. There is zero need for the WRU to be primary employer. There is zero need for the list of NDC players to have to be agreed by Warren Gatland, else you end up with his crazy selections like King, Baker and Thornton.
Instead, Martyn Phillips should be using this NDC pot as a top up. What should happen is that our Pro Teams should be able to go to the WRU, in specific circumstances, to ask for an additional payment to top up the wages of certain individual players. This will rid the 60/40 split that can see players, as per the example above, actually leave Wales anyway.
And then, once this daft Rugby Services Agreement has finally been thrown properly into the bin, the WRU can move away from this line of thinking and follow the French line: a single payment per year to meet specific targets and a daily rate paid to access players for National Team training.
Once we move to that system, our Pro Teams will finally be properly and adequately rewarded (and recompensed) for providing players to Team Wales.