Rugby-Wales put line under strike threat and promise quick action on contracts

February 23, 2023 08:36 PM AEDT | By Reuters
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LONDON (Reuters) - Wales are confident they have seen off the threat of a strike from angry players and that players' concerns over future contracts have been sorted, acting Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Nigel Walker said on Thursday.

It follows a day of high drama on Wednesday as rugby players from across the principality gathered to discuss their financial futures against a backdrop of a possible disruption to Saturday’s Six Nations game against England.

Players were weighing whether to strike over contract issues, the rules on eligibility of foreign-based players and their lack of a voice in decisions that affect them, but Walker told BBC Radio 4 Today’s programme that “an amicable resolution” had been reached.

“The player have not got everything they wanted, there's been a fair deal of compromise. There been some robust conversations over the last week and 100% that's the end of the matter. I've got the agreement of captain Ken Owens that they are now satisfied,” Walker said.

Wales confirmed late on Wednesday that the players had decided to go ahead and play Saturday’s match in Cardiff and the team to face England is to be announced later on Thursday -- two days behind schedule.

“We've got some things to deliver over the next week or two and we're going to get to that straightaway,” added Walker, who said he was taking personal responsibility for the Wales test squad’s affairs and would meet regularly with Owens and other senior payers.

“I think it's been an edifying experience over the last week. Wales rugby fans, England rugby fans, Six Nations rugby fans genuinely look forward to this fixture every year and the fact that it was in doubt brings no credit to us. I'll take responsibility to ensure it doesn't happen again.”

Walker, who only took up his job last month and is a former international himself, said he had been unaware of players gripes over professional contracts. Coach Warren Gatland said the same thing earlier in the week

“The Welsh Rugby Union has been negotiating with the four regions on a long term framework, which would allow us then to present players with contracts.

"That has gone on much, much longer than it should have. There's been too much uncertainty for players. And I understand why they were edgy, why they felt they needed to take this action.

"We have now told them that those contracts will be offered from the middle to tail end of next week. And that's our obligation,” added Walker.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Kim Coghill)


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