Despite delaying the announcement of his selection on Tuesday, Wales head coach Warren Gatland says he is hopeful the threatened Six Nations match against England will go ahead.
On Saturday, Gatland’s team plays host to England in Cardiff.
The game is still in danger because of players’ threats to strike over a disagreement with Welsh rugby executives regarding contracts.
Gatland said that a training session scheduled for Tuesday afternoon had been postponed so that players could continue talks.
The Wales players have given themselves till Wednesday, February 22 to find a solution.
Gatland maintained on Tuesday that he hopes the conflict between the players and Welsh rugby chiefs will be resolved after saying last week that he was optimistic the game would take place.
Gatland stated, “I’m hearing good things from both sides.”
“I’m hoping the talks will result in some agreement that is agreeable to both sides, and then we can resume the game.
There are currently no guarantees, but given the current conversations, I have faith that something will be settled today (Tuesday, 21 February).
“During the past few days, there have probably been six meetings. Like anything else, there must be a compromise.
“Hopefully, some of the decisions made by the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) and the players during today’s negotiations will make both parties satisfied.
The truth is that not every discussion involves a win-win outcome for one side. You must come to a compromise. I’m hoping that’s the case today.
Gatland acknowledged the reality of the strike threat, saying: “There is no question in my mind that it is a legitimate threat.
“After talking to a few people today, I am optimistic that we will reach a compromise.”
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Welsh rugby is in danger of two strikes
Gatland continued, “Today was intended to be a double session, but we have kept it to just this morning so we are not training this afternoon. This decision was made to postpone training on Tuesday.
“I took the decision… a lot of things have been happening outside of rugby, and that has been part of the focus,” the speaker said.
We had a lengthier session this morning instead of training this afternoon to give players time to go relax, and hopefully that resolution happens.
The players have not discussed skipping training, according to the report. We can only hope that these issues are overcome, and the boys show up on Thursday eager to take on Saturday.
A meeting between the players and the Professional Rugby Board (PRB), which oversees the professional game in Wales and is made up of representatives from the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and four regions—Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys, and Scarlets—is scheduled for Wednesday if a resolution is not reached on Tuesday.
Before they agree to take the field at Principality Stadium for a game that will likely bring in close to £10 million for Welsh rugby, the players want three issues fixed.
They desire to:
representation from the Wales Rugby Players Association (WRPA) at PRB meetings.
the controversial Welsh 60-cap selection criteria, which prohibits players who are based abroad from being selected unless they have participated in at least that many Test matches, should be eliminated.
abolition of Welsh rugby executives’ demands that players accept 80% of fixed salaries with 20% in bonuses.
The 60-cap is being reviewed, according to PRB chair Malcolm Wall, but he also indicated that his organization was determined to move on with the fixed/variable contracts, which mean players are only guaranteed 80%.
Wall added that the WRPA will be given a meeting invitation by the PRB.
Gatland thinks that even in the midst of the commotion, the players will be in the correct state of mind if the issue is resolved.
Gatland continued, “I don’t think there will be any lack of motivation for a player playing against England.
“The boys have tomorrow off, and if things are worked out, I’m confident they’ll come back and be totally focused on the game.”
Gatland acknowledged that when he made the decision to move back to Wales after his predecessor Wayne Pivac left in December 2022, he was unaware of the seriousness of the problem.
Gatland admitted that she was completely unaware of all the problems going on.
“I believe things just came to a head last week, maybe.
“Everyone needs to shoulder some of the blame, and I believe everyone is aware that these negotiations and debates have dragged on for too long.
The bad problem (is) that they haven’t been able to come to an agreement in terms of the PRB, Union, and regions, and it ultimately came to a head. I believe the players were assured on numerous occasions that it would be resolved.
We have all been requesting that things be resolved.