Wales contract freeze sparks players strike threat
Wales’ professional players could consider strike action amid a new contracts freeze in Welsh rugby.
It is understood that a meeting will shortly take place between Welsh Rugby Players’ Association officials and players.
That is set to happen before Wales host England in the Guinness Six Nations Championship on Saturday week, and it is believed possible strike action could be discussed.
The situation has been magnified due to recruitment being put on hold for Wales’ four professional regions of Cardiff, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets.
A new financial agreement between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union has yet to be confirmed in writing, sparking concern that many players whose existing contracts expire at the end of this season might head away from Wales.
It has generated a huge sense of uncertainty for players and their families, and a player exodus from Wales cannot be discounted.
Wales lock Will Rowland is set to join French club Racing 92 next season, with current selection policy meaning he would not be available for Wales’ World Cup squad in France later this year.
Wales’ 60-cap rule, which was established in 2017, sees players who subsequently signed contracts to ply their trade outside Wales deemed ineligible for Test selection unless they have won 60 caps or more.
That would make Rowlands, who currently has 23 caps to his name, unavailable for the World Cup unless the rule is changed or he receives special dispensation from the Welsh game’s Professional Rugby Board.
A number of accounts by unnamed players on the lack of a new funding deal were reported by the Daily Mail on Tuesday.
One player, described as a Six Nations squad member, said: “I can’t believe I’m five months away from the end of my contract and eight months away from the World Cup and my future isn’t certain yet.
“I can’t apply for a mortgage and I’m on antidepressants. I’m also one big injury away from not having a job in July, yet I’m starting for Wales every week and the WRU is making tens of millions from international matches.”
The WRU and WRPA has been approached for comment.
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