Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack has made a startling admission that his side’s international players were mistakenly calling Wales plays during Sunday’s Euro thrashing at the hands of Sale.
The Scarlets were dumped out of the Champions Cup after a worrying 57-14 capitulation to the English side.
And Muderack revealed that ‘exhausted’ Six Nations stars were not calling Scarlets moves, causing confusion.
The match at Parc y Scarlets was the first time a glut of the region’s international stars – including the likes of Ken Owens, Gareth Davies, Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies – had been seen in Llanelli since early January.
Speaking on the Scrum V podcast, Muderack insisted there were no excuses but pointed to the fact that players were still ‘decompressing’ after their Six Nations success.
“There are no excuses but there is no doubt that the re-integration of international players coming back from international camp is a huge challenge,” he told the BBC.
“Tom Curry was the only player coming back into the Sale squad. We had eight come back into the squad.
“They come back from Wales camp – for all the right reasons – pretty tired and they’re decompressing. We had a couple of weeks to deal with that but it takes a run of games before you can build that cohesiveness back up again.
“We had boys on the field on Sunday who were calling Welsh team calls, as opposed to Scarlets calls. They were getting confused.
“Those are the things that can happen when you’re under pressure and re-adjusting back into a new environment.”
He called it ‘confusion’, saying: “Those things tend to happen more when you’re under pressure.”
Muderack then went on to discuss the financial issues facing Welsh rugby’s professional teams.
One ‘myth’ he busted was that it is advantageous to employ many Wales stars at your region. The Welsh Rugby Union pays 80% of the wages of 38 ‘elite’ players in Wales with their regions picking up the remaining 20%.
Whilst that helps, given the amount of Scarlets games international players miss throughout a season, they feel it still don’t represent good value for money.
“It’s been fantastic to watch Wales’ success. It’s lifted the mood of the nation and given us a lot of joy,” he said.
“But, financially, supporting Team Wales this year has been a considerable burden.”
Explaining in more detail. he added: “I want success for the Scarlets but I’m still a massive Team Wales fan too and we take a lot of pride in seeing our boys play for Wales and we love having them around the environment when they come back.
“It’s a little bit of a myth that it’s commercially advantageous to have those Welsh players.
“We still need to pay 20 percent of their salaries and, when some of those boys are playing for you twice in a season, they’re very expensive on a per game basis.
“Somebody like Sione Kalamafoni costs one tenth, on a per game basis, of several of our international players.
“It’s interesting because the public optics don’t match with the raw economics.”