UK

Wales’ Six Nations match against England on Saturday will go ahead after potential strike action from Welsh players over a contract dispute was averted.

Discussions between the Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) and Professional Rugby Board (PRB) had been ongoing since January, after players said they felt they had been “let down” amid delays over new contracts.

Players initially threatened strike action as they wanted to scrap the rule which means that only players with 60 caps or more can play for a club outside of Wales and still play for the national team.

This has now been reduced to 25.

Players will also have the chance to choose between fixed contracts and variable contracts as players were unhappy with a variable salary set to be introduced next season which would see 20% of players’ salaries based on bonuses.

Speaking in Cardiff on Wednesday, Welsh rugby captain Ken Owens said players are now “satisfied” following further talks.

“It has been very tough,” he said. “It has been a difficult period over the last year to 18 months and hopefully we don’t end up here again.

“One thing I can say from a players point of view is it has been tough, but we have prepared as we would for any test match, and we are looking forward to getting out on Saturday and going toe-to-toe against England.”

Read more:
Wales rugby: Why were players threatening to go on strike

Owens went on to say that Welsh rugby cannot keep “going on this merry-go round-of crisis after crisis” and now hopes that everyone involved in the team can collaboratively “put Welsh rugby back at the top end of world rugby and not the laughing stock”.

Welsh Rugby Union acting chief executive, Nigel Walker, added: “We have had some robust conversations over the last week.

“We as the PRB shouldn’t have put them [players] in that position but there will be a number of things that will be put in place to ensure that this dialogue continues.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland returned to the role in December, replacing Wayne Pivac, and said on Tuesday that he wished he “would have known a few things that were going on” when he took the job.

He said on Tuesday he was “confident” the match would go ahead despite the looming threat of strike action.

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