Every professional rugby player in Wales was summoned to a crunch meeting on Wednesday ahead of a potential strike that threatens to scupper this weekend’s Six Nations clash with England.
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) could lose up to £9 million ($11 million) if Saturday’s game at the packed Principality Stadium in Cardiff does not go ahead.
Players were told to attend a meeting with the Professional Rugby Board (PRB), which handles talks over their contracts, on Wednesday — a deadline set by Welsh players for progress on the matter.
Wales coach Warren Gatland, who delayed his planned team announcement on Tuesday, was in no doubt that the players were seriously contemplating strike action.
“I think it is a genuine threat, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “What the players were asking for is definitely reasonable.”
A new financial agreement between the four Welsh regions — Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets — and the WRU has still to be confirmed in writing.
There are now concerns that a sizable number of players whose contracts expire at the end of this season will leave Wales due to uncertainty over their futures.
The players want Wales’ minimum 60-cap selection rule for players at clubs outside the country scrapped, a voice at PRB meetings and a review of proposed contracts that would comprise 80 percent in set wages and 20 percent in bonuses.
Wales great Jonathan Davies was scathing about the WRU’s conduct, telling the Rugby Pod: “It’s a scandalous position to be in. You can’t expect players to perform when they have been promised finances to be sorted.”
He added: “It’s not a great reflection on Welsh rugby and the WRU and they have had a disastrous last couple of months.”
Wales have lost their opening two games of the Six Nations for the first time in 16 years, with defeat by Ireland followed by a record 35-7 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.
Off the field, Steve Phillips resigned as WRU chief executive last month following a BBC documentary that aired allegations of sexism, racism and homophobia at the governing body.
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