Warren Gatland Admits He Wishes He’d Known The Extent Of Wales Players’ Anger Over Stalled New Deals

Warren Gatland, Wales Rugby Training Session. Pic: Getty Images.

Warren Gatland Admits He Wishes He’d Known The Extent Of Wales Players’ Anger Over Stalled New Deals

By David Williams

Warren Gatland has admitted he was in the dark over the mood of militancy among the Wales squad before he returned as head coach.

The New Zealander delayed the announcement of his team to face England on Saturday, having originally planned to name his side on Tuesday afternoon.

The Six Nations clash against Wales’ biggest rivals would have been one of the major matches he had in mind when Gatland decided to return for his second stint in charge back in December.

Talks between negotiators of a new six-year financial agreement – the Professional Rugby Board – and Welsh professional players had been due to take place on Wednesday, but
Gatland is hopeful of a solution being reached before then.

But he admitted that he “wishes he would have known” about the situation around his
dissatisfied players, who are threatening to go on strike and not play on Saturday.

Leading Welsh bookmakers DragonBet currently price the Wales v England game as 1-4 to go ahead as scheduled and offer odds of 3/1 against it being called off.

“I was not aware of any of the issues at all, no,” said Gatland.

“I think it just came to a head because everyone needs to take some responsibility and I think people are well aware that these negotiations and discussions have been going on for too long.

“I think the players were given assurances on a number of occasions that it would be sorted out and the unfortunate situation is that they haven’t been able to come to an agreement in terms of the PRB and the Union and the region.

“It finally came to a head so I think we have all been asking for things to get sorted. I wasn’t aware of any of the issues going on when I took the job.

“There have probably been half a dozen meetings over the last few days.

“Today was supposed to be a double (training) session, but we have kept it to just this morning so we are not training this afternoon. Hopefully, those things get resolved and the
boys turn up on Thursday raring to go for Saturday.

“I am hearing positive things from both sides. Hopefully the discussions will be acceptable to both sides in terms of getting some compromise, and we can get on with the game.”


Asked about the prospect of a strike if nothing is agreed, Gatland added: “I think it is a genuine threat, there is no doubt about that.

“Having spoken to a few people today, I am confident that we will get some resolution. “What the players were asking for is definitely reasonable. There needs to be some negotiation. It’s like everything, you have to find some middle ground.

“Hopefully, in the discussions today there will be some middle ground where the players are happy and the Professional Rugby Board are also happy with some of the decisions they make as well.

“The thing is, when you are in discussions, it is not always about win-win for one side. You have to find some compromise.”

Welsh players are set to meet with the PRB on Wednesday in a bid to end their impasse and ward off a possible strike and want a review of a proposal that would see 80 per cent of their wages guaranteed, with 20 per cent via bonuses, and representation from the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association on the PRB.

They are also seeking an end to the 60-cap rule that says only players who have reached that threshold can play for the national team if they move to a club abroad.

The PRB, comprising members from the WRU, the four regions of the country, and two independent voters, is scheduled to convene on Wednesday morning.

In the afternoon, the PRB will hold discussions with all professional players in Wales.

If the players’ demands are not met by mutual consent, the Wales team is determined to go on strike for the pivotal Championship match against England on Saturday.

Read more about Wales players’ strike

Tick, Tick . . . Countdown To Wales Players’ Strike Continues As WRU Fail To Convince Ahead of England Game


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