Wales rugby apologises for contract dispute ‘stress’

Professional Rugby Board (PRB) chair Malcolm Wall has apologised to Welsh players for the “stress and real discomfort” caused by their contract dispute stalemate as the threat of a strike looms over Saturday’s Six Nations clash with England.

The build-up to the match has been overshadowed by tension between the PRB and the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA) over proposed salary cuts from the 2024-25 season, with Wales head coach Warren Gatland saying he supports his players but not strike action.

A new six-year deal, which Wall said is worth £315 million ($379.51m), for local teams Cardiff Rugby, Scarlets, Dragons and Ospreys has been agreed in principle but not yet been signed off in writing. There are concerns over job losses, salary cuts and player welfare.

“I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the PRB for the stress and discomfort the players obviously feel,” Wall told the BBC.

“I am genuinely upset and feel very personally I have not done what I should have done as PRB chair in getting to the place with the long-form agreement and remove the uncertainty.”

Wall said WRPA Chief Executive Gareth Lewis has been invited to be an “observer and contributor” to the PRB, which is due to meet on Wednesday.

“We are arranging with the WRPA this week to hopefully conduct a town hall style meeting with players to better explain the reasoning.”