Wales v England: Six Nations clash in Cardiff to go ahead following lengthy talks

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Wales’ Six Nations match with England in Cardiff on Saturday will go ahead as planned after the players agreed to play.

The players met with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and Professional Game Board (PRB) on Wednesday for talks which lasted over an hour.

They compromised on a deal which will see the 60-cap rule being decreased to 25, allowing more overseas-based players to feature for Wales.

Financial disaster

Had the game been called off, it would have cost the governing body almost £10m in revenue, deepening the financial crisis in the WRU.

Players were demanding:

1. Wales Rugby Players Association (WRPA) representation at PRB meetings.

2. The removal of the contentious 60-cap selection rule in Wales whereby a player plying his trade outside the country cannot be picked unless he has made at least that number of Test appearances.

3. The removal of Welsh rugby bosses’ demands that players accept 80% in set wages, with 20% available in bonus.

A compromise has therefore been accepted, with the cap rule being reduced – although not totally scrapped – and players and agents having the option of a fixed contract or a fixed and variable contract.

Acting WRU chief executive Nigel Walker said: “I’m pleased to announce that after extensive conversations and discussions over the last week the Wales-England game will go ahead as scheduled.

“It’s important going forward that we continue the dialogue over the last week or so, but not under the circumstances we’ve had over the last week or so.

“Ken and I and some of the senior players will be meeting more regularly than perhaps we have in the past.”

After cancelling Tuesday’s Six Nations team announcement, head coach Warren Gatland will now confirm his 23-man team for the England clash on Thursday.

Making a stand

Wales captain Ken Owens said: “We are obviously happy. There has been huge frustration over the last number of months that it got to this stage. We felt we had to make a stand, but the conversations that have taken place over the last 10 days or so have shown that some positive resolutions can be found.

“The players are satisfied, hence why the game is on on Saturday. It has been very tough, hugely frustrating. It has been a difficult period, but we have fronted up in training and prepared as we would for any Test match and we are looking forward to getting out there and going toe-to-toe with England.

“Of course it has been a distraction with everything that has been going on, but I have got to commend the players’ professionalism in this.

“When we have crossed that white line at training, we’ve done our work as professional players. We are really ready for Saturday.

“It has been a difficult period and it has got to be a long-term solution.

“Welsh rugby can’t keep going on this merry go round of crisis after crisis, because it is affecting everyone in the game.

“We need to pull together now and find the best way forward, and do it together to put Welsh rugby at the top end of world rugby, and not the laughing stock, which I think we are at the moment.”

READ MORE: Loose Pass: Welsh rugby teetering on the precipice

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