Welsh clubs can't afford to keep best players, admits Cardiff boss

Welsh clubs can’t afford to keep their best players due to financial crisis, admits Cardiff boss Dai Young as English, French and Japanese clubs battle to sign Wales stars

  • Funding for Dragons, Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets set to drop significantly
  • Young believes cost-cutting is vital for the four professional sides to survive 
  • Cardiff and Wales full back Liam Williams set to join Japanese club Kobe Steelers

Welsh rugby bosses have reluctantly admitted the country’s top stars will have to move abroad if the national game is to survive amid a climate of financial chaos.

Wales’ Six Nations campaign has seen Warren Gatland’s side lose all three of their matches so far but things have been far worse off the field than on it.

It remains the case that out-of-contract players in Wales still cannot officially sign new deals. Even if they could, the proposals on the table are underwhelming given the budgets the country’s four regions will be working with next season and beyond are set to be slashed dramatically.

Sportsmail revealed this week that Cardiff’s Wales and Lions star Liam Williams is poised to move to Japan. Another key Cardiff and Wales figure in Josh Adams remains of interest to Lyon.

Unless the four regions receive more central funding from the Welsh Rugby Union – and that is what they are asking for – it is currently impossible for them to keep hold of their international players.

Cardiff boss Dai Young believes cost-cutting is vital for the four professional sides to survive

‘Nobody wants to lose their best players and in normal circumstances you don’t want them to leave,’ said Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young.

‘But we’ve got to do what’s best to get a squad on the field so we may have to consider it. There are players who can command decent wages we can’t afford. I do expect us to lose a number of players because we are not in a position to compete with the offers of other clubs.’

Young confirmed there had been interest in Williams and Adams from rival clubs, while Harlequins are set to sign his fly-half Jarrod Evans.

Young also added that in his view, the current financial pain being felt in Welsh rugby as it tightens its belt is something the game will have to suffer in order for its four professional sides to survive.

Earlier this season, English rugby lost two clubs in Wasps and Worcester as its top division was hit by a monetary crisis.

Young, a former Wasps boss, said: ‘We simply can’t put competitive offers on the table. The budget we have is not sufficient to put a decent squad together, let alone compete.’

Wales travel to Rome next Saturday for their round four Six Nations clash with Italy as the distractions for head coach Gatland and his players show no signs of going away.

Owen Williams and Gareth Thomas are expected to be fit for that must-win encounter after suffering hip and back problems respectively in the defeat by England.

Cardiff and Wales full back Liam Williams is close to agreeing a deal with Kobe Steelers

Cardiff and Wales wing Josh Adams remains of interest to French top 14 side Lyon

But Alex Cuthbert is set to be absent with a foot problem. Uilisi Halaholo, a Wales cap who is out of contract at the end of the season, has suffered an Achilles injury while with Cardiff.

Meanwhile, England have named their squad for the Women’s Six Nations – a campaign which will be Simon Middleton’s last as head coach. England suffered World Cup final heartbreak in New Zealand last year and will be without lock Abbie Ward and Emily Scarratt for their latest campaign.

Lock Ward is expecting a baby while experienced centre Scarratt and fly-half Zoe Harrison are absent with injury. Ward and Scarratt will help with coaching.

Middleton’s squad will be co-captained by forwards Sarah Hunter and Marlie Packer while there is a return for in-form scrum-half Natasha Hunt who was controversially left out of the World Cup squad.

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