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Cardiff Blues chairman calls for greater WRU funding following Jamie Roberts' departure

By V_Jones  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

Jamie Roberts

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Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas has criticised the Welsh Rugby Union after Jamie Roberts announced he was leaving the Arms Park.

The Wales and Lions centre looks set to join French big-spenders Racing Metro.

The region said they had made an “extremely attractive” offer to the 25-year-old, which would have seen him become “the highest paid player in the Blues squad, and arguably in the UK.”

Mr Thomas said it is "impossible" for the Welsh regions to compete with the kind of money on offer from  clubs in other countries.

"We have invested a lot of time, money and effort developing Jamie as a rugby player from an early age after identifying him as a star of the future,” he said.

"We have stuck by him through thick and thin and supported him during last season when he only completed two matches for the Blues because of his knee injury and international duties, playing 15 matches for Wales.

"The time has come that the Welsh benefactors should not be responsible for funding the professional game.

"The chairman of the regions can guide companies but if we want to keep Jamie Roberts and other international players in Wales, then the governing body has to intervene.

"The player drain out of Wales, which has a negative impact on the Welsh regions and the national team, will only continue without increased funding from the governing body.

"As an example with our recent game against Leinster, the IRFU pay for 14 of their players and additionally fund the province for the remaining players in excess of 4 million euros. Compared to the cost of the  Blues squad, that's almost double.

"You'll never win the Heineken Cup with that margin to compete with.

"The governing body has to take far more responsibility."

Roberts represented the region at age-grade level before stepping up to play for Cardiff RFC in 2005-06, scoring five tries in 11 games.

He made his  senior Blues debut on the wing in the 17-15 win over the Ospreys in August 2007 and has gone on to make 81 appearances for the region during his six seasons, scoring 17 tries.

Roberts made his Wales debut on the wing against Scotland at the start of the 2008 Grand Slam season, going on to win 44 caps.

A medical student at Cardiff University, Roberts will sit his final exams during the 2013 Six Nations.

Blues chief executive Richard Holland said: "As a business we simply don't have the resource to compete with the offers that Jamie has received.

"Naturally we are disappointed that Jamie has decided to leave the region but we wish him the best of luck with his career."

Mr Thomas said the region will begin the search to find a suitable marquee player "who will be eligible to play throughout the entire season."

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