Wales could refuse to play England in Six Nations next weekend over strike against WRU
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Wales players are ready to go on strike during the Six Nations, and miss the game with England in eight days time, as their contract negotiations with the Welsh Rugby Union continue to be at a standoff.
Any meeting between Wales and England in the Six Nations is set up to be a special one, especially when it comes to the Principality Stadium.
The two sides are due to meet on February 25th, with both teams in a period of transition, having just changed their head coaches following the Autumn internationals.
However, the fixture is under threat, due to problems with contract negotiations between the WRU and the players, as well as the regions.
Players face an uncertain future with the Union unable to agree on budgets for the upcoming seasons for the regions, who pay players not on central contracts.
The current plan on the table would see only 80% of contract guaranteed and maximum earnings fall from £400,000 to £278,000.
Players have been considering a strike, rather than playing against England, and former captain Alun Wyn Jones, who is in the squad for the tournament, has said they're ready to go through with it.
"I suppose it is," the man with more Test caps than anyone ever said when asked, via the Times, if a strike was possible.
"It’s hard to deny, but it’s the very last option. There are people who are really impassioned. Ultimately, if you treat people badly for long enough, you get to where we find ourselves.
"We realise what we do and how fortunate we are to do it, but if this was any other line of work or any other industry for this period of time with this amount of uncertainty, you’d get the same reaction.
"We’re very respectful to society as a whole, but it comes to a point now where the game in Wales has to make a decision in which way it wants to go."
Whilst not everyone is lucky enough to get a pay rise, certainly cutting pay and bonuses during a cost of living crisis is not a good look for the WRU, who could lose £10 million if they have to cancel the fixture with England.
One issue for the players is that only those who have already got 60 caps are allowed to be called up to the squad if they play outside of Wales, meaning that players are limited to where they move to.
Players are said to want an end to the rule as part of the negotiations for their new contracts, which is one of several sticking points.
English rugby has also seen two teams go into administration this season and fall out of the Premiership, two less possible destinations for Welsh players, and anyone else.
An unnamed Wales player told the Daily Mail, "I can’t apply for a mortgage and I’m on antidepressants.
"I’m also one big injury away from not having a job in July yet I’m starting for Wales every week and the WRU is making tens of millions from international matches."
Outside of international players, the contract standoff also greatly affects those who aren't part of the set up but play for the regional teams.
Players already walked out of a corporate event earlier in the week as part of their protest against the negotiations.
The team have lost both their opening fixtures of the Six Nations, with Warren Gatland trying to get his side ready for the World Cup later this year, in France.
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Topics: Rugby, Rugby Union, Wales