Rugby-Welsh players given standard contracts after strike threat

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Italy v Wales - Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy - March 11, 2023 Wales players celebrate after the match REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

(Reuters) - Players from Welsh rugby's four professional clubs have been presented with standard contracts that will make existing and new offers legally binding, the country's Professional Rugby Board (PRB) and its rugby body (WRU) said on Saturday.

Welsh players threatened to go on strike last month over contract issues with the PRB which put their Six Nations game against England at risk before an agreement was reached to allow the fixture to go ahead.

The strike threat came after a freeze on new contracts imposed by the PRB. There are around 70 players at regional clubs who are out of contract at the end of the 2022-23 season.

The WRU said its Rugby Management Board (RMB) and PRB members completed a "significant amount of work" on the contract and rights licence, receiving formal acceptance from the Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) and players' agents on Friday.

"This is a significant step forward in the process we are following which will secure a sustainable future for the professional game in Wales," PRB chair Malcolm Wall said.

"We remain hugely grateful to the players themselves for their patience and understanding and look forward now to the point where the full agreement can be signed which underpins the PRB's strategy for the future of the game.

"A huge amount of credit should also go to the directors at each of our professional teams for ensuring that we reach this critical and pivotal stage for the game in Wales."

Wales, who last claimed the Six Nations title in 2021, have won only one match this year after beating bottom side Italy. They finish their campaign against France later on Saturday.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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