England clash could be in doubt
Wales players in Six Nations strike threat over contracts
Professional rugby players in Wales are to hold crunch contract talks with potential strike action threatening the Six Nations clash with England.
Uncertainty has engulfed the sport after the failure of the Welsh Rugby Union and the country’s four regions – Cardiff, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets – to agree pay deals amid a recruitment freeze.
With the long-running row showing little sign of ending, players coming towards the end of their contracts are concerned about their futures with the World Cup taking place in seven months’ time.
Some are reported to be taking anti-depressants, while others are said to have been unable meet mortgage payments, with a mass exodus out of the country by disgruntled players a real possibility.
Warren Gatland’s side’s heavy defeat to Scotland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday was Wales’ 11th defeat in 13 internationals, with their next championship fixture against England on 25 February at the Principality Stadium now the subject of potential strike action.
Talks are scheduled to take place in the run-up to the Cardiff fixture, with “nothing off the table”.
Former international scrum-half Lloyd Williams, who won 32 caps and three Six Nations titles for Wales, said: “There are more important things than playing for Wales.
“It is a reason for players to stay in Wales but the boys have families, they need a house to live in and they need food on the table. So, unless playing for Wales is what the player wants, having job security is more important
“Hopefully in the next fortnight something can be sorted, but unfortunately for the boys at the moment there are no contracts to sign.”