Six Nations: Wales, England clash to go ahead after potential Welsh player strike averted

Wales coach Warren Gatland is now expected to name his side to face England.
Wales coach Warren Gatland is now expected to name his side to face England. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Six Nations fixture between Wales and England at Cardiff will go ahead after an agreement was reached between Welsh players and the country's Professional Rugby Board (PRG) over various contentious contract issues.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) acting CEO Nigel Walker confirmed a potential strike had been averted that would have seen the match against England cancelled, potentially costing the union up to 10 million pounds (NZ$19 million).

"I'm pleased to announce that after extensive conversations and discussions over the last week that the Wales-England game will go ahead as scheduled," Walker said in a statement.

He told reporters the freeze on new contracts imposed by the PRG, which runs the professional game in the country, would be lifted next week.

There are around 70 players at regional clubs who are out of contract at the end of the 2022-23 season.

The 60-cap rule that said only players who have reached that threshold can feature for the national team if they move to a club outside of Wales has been reduced to 25 appearances.

Players will now also have the option of taking a fixed salary contract or one for a lower set wage, but which could climb higher based on performance bonuses.

The PRG had previously stated that all contracts would have 80 percent set wages and a variable amount of 20 percent based on performance.

Walker also confirmed the Welsh Rugby Players Association will be represented at PRB meetings, another demand made by players.

"I was disappointed that it got to this stage that we felt we have to make a stand but I think the collaboration, the conversations that have taken place over the last week, 10 days or so, have shown that some positive resolutions can be found," Wales captain Ken Owens said.

"Everybody in Welsh rugby really needs to pull together now to find the best way forward and we need to do it collaboratively, together, to put Welsh rugby back at the top end of world rugby and not the laughing stock which I think we are at the moment.

"I think we can do that with the collaboration that's been agreed."

Wales's players have not trained since Tuesday as they joined colleagues from regional clubs in an 80-minute meeting with WRU and PRG officials.

Wales coach Warren Gatland is now expected to name his side to face England on Thursday.

The disruption this week was something Gatland did not need after his side suffered heavy defeats to Ireland (34-10) and Scotland (35-7) in their opening two Six Nations fixtures.