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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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The 'ironic' reaction when Steve Diamond contacted agents this week

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)

Worcester boss Steve Diamond has claimed that the suggestion there were upwards of 80 players from last season left uncontracted heading into the new 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season was a fabrication going by his experience with agents this past week.

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With midweek matches in the Premiership Rugby Cup on the horizon, Warriors’ director of rugby made a series of enquiries about bringing in some extra players so that the squad at Sixways could manage the additional workload.

It had been reported at the end of the last season that numerous players had been released across the English league and were now free agents, and a June 7 tweet from England prop Kyle Sinckler brought the issue to the attention of numerous rugby fans.

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“Nearly 100 Premiership rugby players will now be without a club for the 22/23 season. Nothing to do with their rugby ability just finances. Worrying times ahead,” he wrote on social media.

Three months later, though, Worcester coach Diamond has now questioned the validity of this claim that multiple players were left clubless, explaining he had contacted numerous agencies looking to source out-of-contract talent only to be told they had no clients that were unemployed.

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Reading between the lines, you could suggest that the reason no players were said to be available was because of the ongoing financial situation affecting Worcester which resulted in Diamond’s squad getting their August wages late while some staff are still waiting. But the DoR insisted that this financial uncertainty wasn’t the issue, it was that there were no players unemployed on the books at these agencies he contacted.

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“I’ll tell you what is ironic about this. We have got some Prem Cup games coming up on Wednesdays and in the press, you lot would have put 80 players unemployed in the competition,” he volunteered at his media briefing ahead of this Saturday’s league opener at London Irish.

“As of Wednesday, I had gone through seven of the main agents in the country asking could I speak to players they had on their books who were unemployed and none of those agencies had anybody unemployed.

“I’m struggling to find where these 80 players are at the minute. I don’t know whether that was just a fabrication of numbers but at this moment of time I’m looking to bring in three or four players and we can’t find them at the moment. It’s not the case of it’s Worcester and potentially they have got no money. Agents are telling me we have got nobody out of contract at the minute.”

As it stands, just Kyle Hatherell has informed Diamond that he wants to quit Worcester due to their current cash crisis. “Only one, Kyle Hatherell. I have run these businesses for people and if an offer comes in for a player we will always look at it.

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“I don’t need to name them here but I can name ten or 15 that I have sold in the past and that has happened with Kyle. At this moment nothing has been agreed. If the right offer comes in and I think it is right and the owners think it is right then we will do a negotiation on that, but there is only one that has happened with [who said he wants to leave].”

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RUGBYPASS+ Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis
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