Rhys Carre’s move adds another string to the Project Reset bow

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Project Reset has a lot to answer for when it comes to the Cardiff Blues, with the agreement that was due to revolutionise the professional rugby landscape in Wales now descending to a complete farce.

In it’s existence so far it has failed to produce any certainty for the regions beyond the end of next season, has almost merged Scarlets and Ospreys, tried to create a clearly unviable North Wales region, caused paper shortages in Swansea as statements were made quicker than trees felled, and is now having a huge impact on squad building.

We have already discovered how the uncertainty created by Reset meant that John Mulvihill did not know the budget he was working with for 2019/20 until mid-March, and as a result missed out on a swoop for Australian lock Sam Carter, who subsequently joined Ulster.

Then there is the ongoing saga around Gareth Anscombe and his new contract, which has all come about because of the wage bandings introduced as part of Project Reset, limiting the amount that the majority of Welsh regional players can earn.

Now there is the news that Rhys Carre has signed for Saracens this summer, a hugely promising loosehead prop talent taken out of Wales just as he was about to become a serious contender for the first choice spot at Cardiff Blues and possibly start to push for a Wales squad spot.

Reactions to this varied from those pleased to see a young Welsh player going to a side like Saracens, to some annoyed at the club for not tying him down to a new deal, and others less than happy for Rhys Carre who, in their eyes, has somewhat turned his back on Cardiff Blues.

However, I write this having done a bit of digging into the circumstances, and while I am not pleased to see us lose a talent like the 21-year-old, I think the other viewpoint is particularly out of order. Instead the anger should be shifted outside the Arms Park to next door.

Rhys Carre Uruguay
Rhys Carre will be a Saracens player next season

The story begins last October/November time, with John Mulvihill looking to get signatures on new contracts for beyond this summer, presumably to be announced around January/February time as is generally the case in the Northern Hemisphere.

Instead he is told to wait, and that very few contracts will be signed while Project Reset is dragging on. Only key first team players are to be offered deals, hence why the likes of Kris Dacey, Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans and Willis Halaholo have been announced so far.

Players like Carre were left in limbo, and during that limbo Saracens came calling, arguably the best side in Europe, certainly one of the richest, and also a team under-appreciated for the players that they have developed in recent years.

Rhys had his head turned, as you might expect, especially with the instability behind the scenes of Welsh rugby, and when you consider his girlfriend will be studying in London next year, his decision becomes a lot clearer. There is always more to it than meets the eye.

This is also true of the Cardiff Blues involvement, who actually ended up offering Carre more money than he will earn at Saracens, but due to the Project Reset delay the offer came too late. The player’s mind was already made up.

Whether you agree with his decision in playing terms is another debate, and one that is difficult to settle without knowing what Saracens have told him in terms of what to expect when it comes to playing time, although with Mako Vunipola set to be away for most of next season there may well be some first team minutes available.

I personally hope for his sake it works out though, and that he will then return to the Arms Park in two or three years as a fully developed loosehead prop ready to play regularly for Wales, with reports that he has fallen out with John Mulvihill wide of the mark.

For now we bemoan the work of those in charge of the Welsh Rugby Union, particularly Martyn Phillips, in how Project Reset has struck to leave Cardiff Blues looking short at loosehead, particularly with a question mark over the future of Rhys Gill.

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