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Welsh rugby to hold crisis meeting amid threat of player exodus

By Chris Jones
CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 05: Will Rowlands of Wales looks dejected after the Autumn International match between Wales and New Zealand at Principality Stadium on November 05, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Welsh Rugby Union performance director Nigel Walker is to hold urgent talks with Wales’s professional players amid growing fears financial worries could see an exodus of talent.


Then situation has been highlighted by Wales lock Will Rowlands who is swapping the Dragons for a contract with Racing 92 in Paris. His move has come as the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is still to agree future funding with Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets which has led to a freeze on player contract negotiations.

The Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) is voicing its serious concerns stating:” “For the sanity and health of our members, the delay cannot go on any longer.”

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Walker said: “Malcolm Wall and I are meeting the WRPA on Wednesday to discuss how we can work together over the coming weeks to map out and implement an action plan which gives players certainty in as short a time-frame as possible.

“Market uncertainty is not confined to Wales and the WRU has already taken steps, and will continue to act, as it does everything within its power to prevent any repeat of scenarios elsewhere, outside of Wales, which have seen clubs suffer financial collapse.

“The WRU is acutely aware of current player anxiety and is working tirelessly to achieve a long term, sustainable solution alongside the regions, with all parties represented in ongoing Professional Rugby Board (PRB) discussions. We are optimistic a settlement is within our grasp.

“We understand how difficult it is for players and the regions during this period where contract negotiations are suspended due to the ongoing PRB discussions.


“Agreeing a new multi-year deal is absolutely vital for the long-term sustainability of professional rugby in Wales.”

A WRPA statement said: “Players are now reluctantly seeking security elsewhere by exploring opportunities outside of Wales and as a result, this week it was suggested that the first high-profile player has decided to move to France. Clearly this will have a detrimental effect on the domestic and international game in Wales.

“The ongoing delay however is having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of players and potentially the performances across the regions.

“The players from all four regions are united in one voice to call for the immediate resolution to the impasse. Our members can’t continue to play with the fear of the unknown hanging over them.


“Several players are out of contract at the end of June 2023 and with an embargo on contract negotiations, these members are unable to discuss, let alone secure future employment beyond the next six months.

“Not knowing if they have a job and thus an income to pay mortgages and bills is a weighty situation to be carrying on a day-to-day basis, and on to the field.

“Players are struggling to remortgage or get new mortgages as banks require proof of earnings. With only six months remaining on contracts.”

Playing for a team outside Wales means you cannot be selected for the national team unless you have 60 caps or more.


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