Wales’ final match in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations away to France on Saturday has coincided with standard contracts being presented to numerous players and their agents in the past 24 hours following a PRB agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players Association.
The game in Wales has been in crisis mode for quite a while, resulting in a threatened strike for last month’s Test match against England in Cardiff. That potentially disastrous cancellation was eventually averted, with the WRU vowing to find a resolution to the contracts row that had prevented the regions in Wales from making any offers for players who fall out of contract at the end of the 2022/23 season.
Officials now claim that a resolution has been found – but there were no figures given about what the standard contracts are worth and whether what is on offer will definitely now be enough to head off a feared exodus of the players from the regions to clubs outside Wales.
A statement read: “The first standard contracts in Welsh rugby’s history have been tabled making existing and new offers now legally binding – the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) has confirmed.
“Welsh rugby’s four professional sides have been making offers to players since February, but the PRB and Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) have now completed work together on standard contracts which have been presented to a number of players and their agents in the last 24 hours, with more to follow.
“The Rugby Management Board (RMB) of the WRU and PRB members completed a significant amount of work on a new standard form contract and rights license and received formal acceptance from the WRPA and players’ agents on Friday, March 17.”
PRB chair Malcolm Wall said: “This is a significant step forward in the process we are following which will secure a sustainable future for the professional game in Wales. A lot of hard work has gone into getting us to this stage and we are delighted to say our four professional sides are now in a position to offer legally binding contracts as necessary.
“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 moment which this latest development proves is now closer than ever.
“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.”
WRPA chief executive Gareth Lewis added: “Work has been ongoing for the past 12 months on producing new standard form contracts. Following a productive consultation period, I am pleased to finalise and approve the documents for our members. The last few weeks have highlighted the benefits of engaging with the players and the WRPA and how important the consultation process is.
“I am pleased to conclude this process and now our focus is on supporting our members – those that continue within the game and also those transitioning to new career paths – as well as continuing to grow and develop the association. I’d like to thank the members for their patience and on their behalf thank Mark Loosemore of Loosemores Solicitors for his invaluable guidance and support”
WRU interim CEO Nigel Walker said: “To be able to offer the first standard contracts in Welsh rugby’s history is an impressive show of unity for our game and much credit is due to the individual members of the PRB and RMB, to the WRPA, Welsh rugby’s agents and the players themselves and those directors at the regions who have stepped up to allow legally binding contracts to be signed before formal agreement on our long-term funding agreement itself is signed.
“Significant progress has been made and we are now very close to the end of this process, news that will provide a significant boost to everyone involved in the game in Wales.”2023-03-18T11:31:48Z dg43tfdfdgfd