Wales strike talks hit an impasse
Wales strike talks hit an impasse as players and Welsh Rugby Union FAIL to agree on a resolution ahead of Six Nations showdown with England in Cardiff on Saturday
- Sportsmail revealed last week that Wales players are considering strike action
- Warren Gatland’s squad plan to strike if their demands aren’t met by Wednesday
- The WRU are set to earn in the region of £9m from Saturday’s clash with England
Wales’ squad and interim Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Nigel Walker on Monday failed to come up with a solution which would avoid a player strike for Saturday’s England clash.
Despite spending the day locked in talks which took place around the team’s training schedule, the two parties are yet to agree. It means this weekend’s Six Nations tie remains very much in doubt.
As contractual chaos engulfs the Welsh game and the clock ticks down towards Wednesday’s player-enforced deadline to sort out the stalemate, there remains significant work to be done if the England game is to take place.
Cancelling the match would cost the WRU in the region of £9million. With 90 Welsh-based players who are out of contract at the end of the season currently unable to be offered new deals and financial uncertainty dominating the game, Sportsmail revealed Warren Gatland’s national squad were considering a strike for the England game.
To avoid such a scenario, they made three main demands. Among them was the abolishment of Welsh rugby’s controversial 60 cap rule and removing the variable element of proposed player contracts.
Wales players are still considering strike action ahead of their Six Nations clash with England
Senior members of Warren Gatland’s squad insist their current position is no empty threat
It is understood neither of those two matters was resolved on Monday. On Sunday night, Welsh rugby’s professional rugby board chair Malcom Wall said an announcement on the 60 cap rule would be imminent.
He also confirmed there had been a resolution on the third playing demand which was for them to have a player representative at PRB level. It is understood Welsh Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Gareth Lewis will be able to sit at PRB meetings starting this week but will not be a voting member.
It effectively means the Welsh players will be able to listen in on PRB discussions but not impact them. To add a WRPA representative to the current eight voting members of PRB would require a change to the WRU’s constitution.
Wales’ players had put a deadline of Wednesday for their demands to be met but the ongoing impasse on the 60 cap rule and the fixed variable contracts means they are not happy. WRU sources indicated they are taking the strike threat incredibly seriously.
WRU interim chief executive Nigel Walker (pictured), members of the four regions, and the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association will spend the start of this week locked in talks
On Wednesday, there will be a full player meeting between every professional in Wales and members of the PRB to discuss the latest proposals and to try and avoid strike action. On Tuesday, Gatland will plough on with preparing as if the England game will be on by naming his team for the weekend. In the background, though, all is not well.
One regional source told Sportsmail: ‘The position is bleak. Things are getting worse, not better.’
On Monday, Cardiff’s players were told of the bleak current financial position in Welsh rugby and how regional budgets would look under the six-year funding model which remains on the table but is yet to be officially signed.
The bottom line is that money is tight in Welsh rugby right now and the England game remains very much on a knife-edge.
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