The Welsh Rugby Union has many well-documented problems it needs to fix, but the forefront of its new strategy has to be how to keep the next generation of talent in Wales.

It is commonplace to see young Welsh players awarded scholarships at prestigious English schools such as Hartpury, Clifton, Millfield or Sedbergh, with many earning academy contracts with English Premiership clubs.

Now, it would be immoral to deny anybody the opportunity of a higher level of education but the fact is the four professional clubs in Wales - Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets - are seeing their future stars taken away from them.

What makes matters even more concerning for the WRU is the fact many English clubs have began putting a clause into some contracts which stipulates academy players must represent England at age grade if selected.

The England U20s side, which comfortably beat Wales in Bath a couple of months ago, had four players in their matchday 23 who were born this side of the Severn Bridge. The reality is no player should be denied the opportunity of attending the likes of Hartpury or Clifton and the Welsh sides need to work with English schools, not against them.

Of course, if a Welsh teenager attends Millfield and is part of the Cardiff academy there is a very real danger they will eventually get persuaded to join Bath or Gloucester.

It should be a strategic aim of the WRU to have thriving professional sides and in order to do that they need to ensure its professional clubs have the means of retaining its best young talent. But the onus should be on the WRU to offer its next generation of talent a package which can compete with what is on offer in England.

In the latest Inside Welsh Rugby newsletter, rugby correspondent Steffan Thomas looks at the issue of losing young players across the border.

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