24 May, 14:08
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
The first meeting saw the shell-shocked Warriors players given an update from a WRU representative which left them in no doubt that their team is to be disbanded. But as the Warriors' players' meeting was going on, another hush-hush get-together of Welsh rugby's top figures was taking place nearby.
In that second meeting, coaches and chief executives from the four other regions - the Scarlets, Blues, Ospreys and Dragons - met up with WRU bigwigs and Mike Ruddock to discuss the future of the Warriors' players.
It was the first step towards deciding which player will go to which region as part of the sudden shake-up. The Western Mail also revealed the names of the men who attended the secretive get-together. According to the newspaper, Cardiff Blues were represented by coach David Young and chief executive Bob Norster, with team manager Jim McCreedy and new chief executive Andy Marinos there for the Dragons. For the Scarlets, coach Gareth Jenkins and chief executive Stuart Gallacher attended, while coach Lyn Jones, director Mike Cuddy and rugby manager Derwyn Jones made up a three-pronged Ospreys delegation.
The WRU was represented at the talks by general manager Steve Lewis and union solicitor John Morris.
Wales coach Ruddock, likely to have a big say in who goes where, also attended, backed up by his assistant Scott Johnson and team manager Alan Phillips. Also present was players' union representative Richard Harry.
The 15 men thrashed out discussions over a table and came to a number of conclusions. It is believed that among the most sought-after Warriors are Wales stars Ceri Sweeney, Sonny Parker, Gareth Cooper, Robert Sidoli, plus young back-rower Ryan Jones. Warriors No 10 Sweeney is particularly hot property, with the Scarlets, Dragons and Ospreys each looking for a fly-half.
It is believed the Scarlets, who are losing Stephen Jones to Montferrand, may be the front-runners for his services. Centre Parker would be a prize recruit for the Ospreys or the Dragons, while scrum-half Cooper would be a likely target for Cardiff Blues and the Dragons. Other potential moves could see hard-running centre Jonny Bryant join the Dragons, who may also be in the running for strong-scrummaging prop Chris Horsman, along with the Blues.
The distribution of who goes where is set to be prioritised to address problem positions at the four remaining regional teams. There is also a recognition that the wishes of individual players need to be taken into consideration. It is believed that existing contracts will be taken over by the regions the players move to.
The official closure notice on the Warriors is yet to be delivered by the WRU. But the players were left convinced of the fate of the region following their own meeting with a WRU official. One senior player, who did not wish to be named, told us last night, "The union representative basically told us the region was going.
"He said it wasn't viable and that the numbers didn't equate. We left the meeting knowing the Warriors were no more. There may be an official announcement to come at a future date, but we know it's gone."
Underlining the sense of shock and desolation within the Warriors dressing room, the player who preferred not to be named said "We are devastated and utterly let down. We have asked to meet David Moffett, but he hasn't been at the meetings we've had with the union."
Warriors' coach Lynn Howells said the demise of the region would be very sad for Welsh rugby and particularly for the valleys. "This has come as a bombshell. It's a sad day," he said.
"This smacks of being a financial rather than a rugby decision. The WRU always wanted a big four, but the side they've picked on was the one with the structures in place to really take things forward.
"What I can't get to grips with is that they have decided again there's not going to be any rugby in the valleys. It always seems to be the valleys that take the brunt of it. This will leave a big hole in Welsh rugby."
The Ospreys have offered their support, with chief executive Andrew Donald saying, "Everyone at the Ospreys is extremely saddened by what has happened at the Warriors and our thoughts are with those players and staff affected.
"We will do everything within our power to help wherever we can."
(Report courtesy Simon Thomas, The Western Mail.