The WRPA (Welsh Rugby Players Association) have been in regular communication with all key stakeholders around the current negotiations for a long-term finance model for the four regions.
We are in support of a long term agreement, which will give stability and security to our members moving forward.
The ongoing delay however is having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of players and potentially the performances across the regions.
The players from all four regions are united in one voice to call for the immediate resolution to the impass. Our members can’t continue to play with the fear of the unknown hanging over them.
Several players are out of contract at the end of June 2023 and with an embargo on contract negotiations, these members are unable to discuss, let alone secure future employment beyond the next 6 months. Not knowing if they have a job and thus an income to pay mortgages and bills is a weighty situation to be carrying on a day to day basis, and on to the field.
Players are struggling to remortgage or get new mortgages as banks require proof of earnings. With only 6 months remaining on contracts and no guarantee of employment thereafter, banks are simply refusing at present.
Players are still taking the field every week exposing themselves to injury, which would leave them vulnerable come contract negotiations anywhere, let alone wales. We’ve seen 3 high profile players in the autumn fall victim to this, but it’s the ‘squad’ players who are leaving themselves wide open, as they won’t have the luxury of choice when it comes to clubs and wages moving forward.
The financial crisis of rugby in Wales and England has been well publicised in recent months, and the speculation of salary and squad size reductions has only amplified the anxiety and concern amongst professional players.
Players are now reluctantly seeking security elsewhere by exploring opportunities outside of Wales and as a result, this week it was suggested that the first high profile player has decided to move to France. Clearly this will have a detrimental effect on the domestic and international game in Wales.
As an Association, our role is to represent and support our members, with player welfare of utmost priority. Daily discussions on this matter are taking place in all four regions and as time goes on, we are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare and mental wellbeing of our members.
For the sanity and health of our members, the delay cannot go on any longer. An agreement needs to be concluded by the Union and four regions imminently.
We have participated diligently in the process but the calls for patience must be replaced with action.
The WRPA is a voice representing the main asset in the game, the player, and to ensure a united, long-term future, this voice must be listened to.