London - The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has strongly criticised Welsh club Scarlets and accused them of seeking to sell George North without informing the Wales winger first.
Regional Rugby Wales, the body that represents the four Welsh regions, has called on the WRU to help prevent the steady drain of leading Welsh players to clubs in England and France.
However, the WRU claims the Scarlets have undermined that initiative by attempting to offload North, after the 20-year-old's agent said talks were under way over a move to English side Northampton.
"The WRU is aware that the Scarlets opened discussions to transfer the player with clubs outside Wales and the UK late in 2012," the organisation said in a statement.
"George North informed the WRU shortly after the Wales v Ireland Six Nations international on February 2, 2013 that he had then been told of the transfer proposal.
"George refused to consider France, but reluctantly conceded he would be prepared to move if the Scarlets wished."
North's fellow Wales internationals James Hook, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Dan Lydiate and Jamie Roberts have all joined clubs outside the country in recent years.
The WRU went on to assert that the regions have rebuffed attempts by the Welsh governing body to keep players such as North in Wales by tying them to central contracts.
"The WRU first tabled an offer to discuss centrally contracting Welsh-qualified regional players in August 2012 and has renewed that proposal. No meaningful response from the Regions has been received by the WRU," the WRU said.
"The WRU revisited the issue of George North and agreed to consider assisting in a financial model to retain him in Wales with one of the four Regions.
"The WRU has recently discovered that the regions signed an agreement which precludes any of them playing an individual who is centrally contracted to the Union.
"The WRU urges all four regions to abandon this stance and return to the negotiating table."
The statement from the WRU also urged the regions to "abandon the practice of selling Welsh-qualified senior players for profit before their contracts are concluded", and to inform each other and the WRU when they are seeking to sell or release any Wales players.