Welsh rugby players are threatening to go on strike ahead of the upcoming England game
The players have reportedly ‘had enough’ regarding new contract delays
Possible industrial action is said to be in the works for Welsh Rugby Union players due to concerns surrounding new contracts which have not yet been completed.
The WRU were given the green light to draw up 2023-24 contracts in early January 2023, but this has not yet been done which has led to uncertainty with regards to the players’ futures. Furthermore, the situation has been worsened by the fact that player recruitment has been put on hold and the 2023-24 season budget has not yet been finalised for the four Welsh professional teams, Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff, and Dragons.
As no formal budgets are in place for the upcoming season, the formal contract discussions appear to remain unfinished, despite the WRU’s acting chief executive, Nigel Walker, claiming they will be sorted by the end of February 2023.
The Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) accepted Walkers’ verbal agreement but wanted to ensure the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) discussions were concluded swiftly to ensure professionalism, success and strength in regional clubs.
A number of players have spoken up on the matter and taken to social media to talk about the issue. Sam Cross, who plays for Ospreys and Wales tweeted: “It’s time players stood up for ourselves and the WRPA had a seat on the PRB allowing us to have a voice in our own futures and on how the game is run in Wales going forward.”
Josh Turnbull, who plays for Cardiff also tweeted about the treatment of players, saying that players were anxious over whether they would have a job in the upcoming months, not over pay, as some have speculated.
Former Wales captain, Alun Wyn Jones said in a recent press conference: “We’re fortunate that we’re all involved in a sport and a job we love. To fathom the fact we might not do that because of the severity of the situation is very real, but it’s the last thing we want to do.”
He continued by saying: “I can tell you every player wants to play rugby. We’re fully aware of the privilege that we have, whether that be regional or international, but we can’t be under the guillotine and be used in the emotive side of things when ultimately this is a career and a job.”
Warren Gatland, Wales’ head coach, who was also present at the press conference said players are still preparing as if the England fixture is going ahead and that whilst he doesn’t specifically support the strikes, he does support the players in what they’re trying to achieve.
The Welsh players also staged a walk out during a sponsors’ dinner at the Parkgate Hotel in Cardiff. They were ordered to attend the event but left after one hour. Wales Online has said that it was premeditated, following a meeting with WRU over a new contract model.