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Dragon’s centre Jack Dixon reveals stark reality of Welsh contract row

17 Feb 2023 4 minute read
Dragon’s centre Jack Dixon. Photo Andrew Matthews/PA Images

Dragons centre Jack Dixon has laid bare the stark reality faced by players and their families amid Welsh rugby’s contracts freeze.

Dixon is out of contract with his Newport-based regional team at the end of this season; he is among an estimated 70 to 100 Welsh professional players in the same boat.

A new six-year financial agreement between the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales’ four professional regions – Dragons, Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets – has not yet been signed off in writing after months of discussion, and the clock is ticking.

The regions are braced for financial cuts, but no playing budgets have been finalised for next season, so no contracts can be offered in writing.

A players’ strike is seen as a possibility, and 28-year-old Dixon, whose wife Lauren is expecting the couple’s second child in August, admits it is a difficult time.

“The uncertainty of the next couple of weeks and the next couple of months is tough,” he said. “My contract runs out in three or four months’ time.

“I have a two-year-old son in the house, my wife is pregnant with another baby expected towards the end of this year, and I don’t know if I have got income coming in June, July and next year yet. Nothing has been said.

“When you take the field you try to park it as best you can but, subconsciously, you are one big injury from being thrown out the door, to put it frankly.”

Verbal offer

Dixon has been made a verbal contract offer by the Dragons, which the regions are currently permitted to do, but nothing can be set in stone until a written long-term agreement is finalised.

The Wales Under-20 international joined the Dragons in 2011 and has made more than 160 appearances for them.

“There is quite a good bond and trust between players and coaches at the Dragons but, like in any industry, until something is set in stone and signed on the dotted line, it doesn’t mean anything,” Dixon added.

“Dai (Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan) has sat us down and explained the situation the best he can to every individual.

“As players across all four regions, we have to stick together with this. For me and a lot of the boys, it is not really about money.

“It is about players having a fair say in the board meetings and just having a voice. We feel as players we don’t get a say – we are always last to know information.

“I feel like it has got to the point where you are asking me about Welsh players striking for Wales versus England. That says it all.

“We are the ones who go out there every weekend and put our bodies on the line. We signed up to be rugby players but, at the end of the day, we deserve to have our say in what goes on in the whole organisation.

“At the minute, we are just holding on until we get answers. Something has to change. The outside pressures are pretty overwhelming at the minute.”

Josh Turnbull

Cardiff captain Josh Turnbull, a Wales Test player not currently in the international squad, has also aired his views.

“What the PRB (Professional Rugby Board) and WRU have done in the past few months is show a complete lack of respect and empathy towards the players,” Turnbull said on Twitter.

“There has been very little consultation or transparency throughout their process.

“Let’s make it clear. This is not about what players earn. It’s the fact that players don’t know if they have a job in four months’ time.

“This vulnerable and uncertain situation is causing severe stress and wellbeing issues for several players, and this is increasing by the day. We are anxious about the lack of progress, and time is rapidly running out.”

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