Welsh rugby union chiefs and players’ union bosses are set to meet on Wednesday in a last ditch attempt to thrash out a deal to make sure head coach Warren Gatland possesses a team to put out for Saturday’s Six Nations game against England.
Welsh players say they will boycott the showpiece match if a row over contracts fails to be settled.
On Wednesday, the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) – which runs the professional game in Wales – will meet before further talks in the afternoon with players’ representatives.
The players want three issues resolved before they agree to take the field at Principality Stadium on Saturday.
They propose executives from the Wales Rugby Players Association (WRPA) sitting in on PRB meetings. They also say a 60-cap rule should be scrapped.
Under the law, a player plying his trade outside Wales cannot be picked unless he has made at least 60 Test appearances.
Another bugbear is about set wages and bonuses.
PRB chair Malcolm Wall has said the 60-cap rule is under review. It is understood the requirement might be cut to 40 or even 25 caps.
However, it is believed that while players’ representatives might be allowed to take part at PRB conferences and get-togethers, there is less flexibility on wages and bonuses.
Gatland, has yet to name his team for the side’s third game in the 2023 Six Nations tournament.
Wales have been pummelled in their matches in the campaign. Ireland beat them 34-10 on 4 February in Cardiff and Scotland romped past them 35-7 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on 11 February.
A morale-boosting performance against England would kickstart Gatland’s return as head coach and provide a platform for the rest of the tournament as well as the impending rugby World Cup in the autumn in France.
Gatland said he was unaware of the rancour when he decided to come back to Wales after Wayne Pivac’s departure in December 2022.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge but sometimes that galvanises people and brings them together,” Gatland added.
“I think it’s a genuine threat to strike, no doubt about that.
“I’ve wanted things to get resolved and then we can just focus on the game for Saturday.”
Ireland, who play in Italy on Saturday afternoon, lead the Six Nations table following the opening day win over Wales and a 32-19 mauling on 11 February of the defending champions France who host Scotland at the Stade de France on Sunday.
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