A comprehensive financial review of professional rugby in Wales has been jointly commissioned by the Welsh Rugby Union and the four regions.
Accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers will examine the financial state of health of the game following talks between the Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons and the union over the last two months.
It comes in the wake of the announcement by the four RaboDirect PRO12 clubs that they would be adopting a salary cap of £3.5million on their Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup squads, a move that has further precipitated fears of an exodus of top talent to France, where clubs boast budgets several times the size of the regions.
Already Welsh internationals full-back Lee Byrne, fly-half James Hook and scrum-half Mike Phillips are plying their trade across the Channel while lock Luke Charteris could be the first of many more to announce his departure to play in France.
And WRU chief executive admits there will be no quick-fix solutions to the financial problems facing the regions.
He said: "We have discussed the many and varied challenges which face the professional game in Wales in this very demanding economic climate.
"Together we have agreed to explore what opportunities may exist between us to create greater sustainability for regional rugby based upon the review's findings.
"The Welsh Rugby Union's business model is centred upon a rolling five-year plan which guarantees support and investment into all levels of the game in Wales as well as the Millennium Stadium.
"This plan has proved to be robust so far but in an ever-changing environment, we need to ensure we take the time to properly consider the right strategies for the future not just today."
In contrast to the regions’ cash-flow problems, packed houses at the Millennium Stadium recently led to the WRU announcing a profit of £54.3million for the last financial year.
But Regional Rugby Wales chief executive Stuart Gallagher says the union and regions are singing from the same hymnsheet.
“It’s another clear sign that both the Welsh Rugby Union and the Regions intend to work as a team to ensure we fully understand the many and complex challenges involved in developing and improving our sport in a rapidly changing environment,” said Gallagher.
“The last few months, have clearly illustrated the success of our existing structures in nurturing and developing the wealth of talent that exists within rugby in Wales.
“We need to ensure we all work together to protect and further develop those structures and utilise all our collective resource to ensure Welsh rugby is healthy on every level.”