Wales players are considering downing their boots in protest at contractual delays. Pic: Getty Images.

Wales Players Are 9/2 To Go On Strike . . . 1/6 To Keep Their Boots On

By Paul Jones

Welsh rugby players have been priced at 9/2 to go on strike before their Six Nations clash at home to England.

Leading Welsh bookmaker DragonBet make the chances of players downing boots in protest over contract delays and planned wage cuts an outside bet.

They make the February 25 showdown at the Principality Stadium 1/6 to go ahead as planned.

With broadcasting contracts to fulfil and ticket revenue to earn, the Welsh Rugby Union will be doing everything in its power to ensure the match goes ahead.

When the 2020 Six Nations match at home to Scotland was postponed due to the Covid19 pandemic, the WRU took a financial hit of £5.3m, even after it was replayed later that year.

The players’ representative body – the Welsh Rugby Players Association – are due to discuss their options, including strike action, at a meeting next week.

Cardiff Rugby director of rugby, Dai Young, perfectly summed up the on-going frustration being felt by players and coaches alike at all four regions.

They were told to go away and prepare to table contracts for the players, yet still haven’t been given the go-ahead to confirm anything in writing.

“We are all getting a little bit bored of saying next week . . . next week. We aren’t in a position at the moment where we can offer anyone a contract to sign. I still don’t have a confirmed budget for next season,” admitted Young.

“There is no more information than we have had for a while and the longer it goes on the more agitated the players and staff will be. Everyone wants to know what their future holds.

“I’m trying to keep the players’ heads on the job because we have some very important games coming up.”

Young is well versed in the difficulties of dealing with clubs facing a financial crisis following his decade in charge at Wasps.

But the current drama is a bit like death by a thousand cuts.

“We face a situation where we aren’t able to keep the players we want to keep just because of the budgets. We will be cutting our numbers and we will be reducing salaries,” said Young.

“The game in Wales can’t sustain the salaries and numbers there at the moment. That’s a fact and a situation, but to what levels we can’t say until we get the budget in front of us.”

There are fires raging all across the WRU’s territories.

On the playing front, the senior men’s team has lost 11 of its last 13 internationals and neither they, nor the Under 20 side, have won a game to date in the Six Nations.

Some senior international figures are looking to secure their futures by playing outside of Wales, putting a number of them outside the 60 cap rule which prevents them from playing for their country.

A further exodus is expected once news of the salary cap comes into play, with the top players receiving a ceiling figure of £278,000 pa – a drop of up to £70,000 pa for some.

The pay pain will also drop down through the ranks as the regions battle to find a way to stay afloat.

There is huge uncertainty and anxiety for the 200+ professional players and support staff at the four teams.

Cardiff’s international scrum-half Lloyd Williams, who recently became his region’s most capped player, admits the situation is “frustrating” and has had an effect on the performances of some players.

“There are more important things than playing for Wales,“ said the two-time World Cup player.

“It is a reason for players to stay in Wales but the boys have families, they need a house to live in and they need food on the table. So, unless playing for Wales is what the player wants, having job security is more important

” Hopefully in the next fortnight something can be sorted, but unfortunately for the boys at the moment there are no contracts to sign.”

 

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