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Wales vs England game to go-ahead following crisis talks

Professional Rugby Board (PRB) chair Malcolm Wall has confirmed agreement has been reached with Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA) CEO Gareth Lewis which removes any doubt over player participation in Wales’ third round Guinness Six Nations clash with England at Principality Stadium on Saturday.

The PRB has moved quickly to hear requests made by the WRPA to be included in its regular meetings, to agree a reduction to the 60-cap rule which governs international selection and to revise the fixed-and-variable contract offer being made to players as part of the proposed new Professional Rugby Agreement (PRA).

Lewis will now attend all PRB meetings with immediate effect.

The number of international caps a player will be expected to have won before being free to play outside Wales – and still be available for selection by Wales – will be reduced to 25.

And the new contract offer to be made to players in Wales will now contain the option of a ‘fixed-only’ contract, with this offer running alongside the fixed-variable contract originally on the table as part of the new framework which Wales’ four professional sides will work to.

“We have listened to our players and have been able to resolve the three issues presented, quickly and efficiently,” said Wall.

“Any doubt over Wales’ meeting with England on Saturday has now been removed and the game is definitively on.

“The six-year framework we have agreed has always had the players’ best interests at heart and we have been happy to allay their understandable concerns with the adjustments described.

“Negotiations at PRB will continue in earnest as we seek to sign our new six-year PRA as soon as possible and we continue to be grateful to our professional players for their understanding and patience at this most critical time for the game in Wales.”

A PRB meeting took place at Principality Stadium this morning (Wednesday) as the four professional sides in Wales and WRPA representatives discussed concerns raised by players, before a further meeting was held with internationals and club players at the Vale Hotel in Hensol this afternoon to conclude negotiations.

Players were all informed that each of the four professional sides will be able to offer full contracts from next week.

“I’m grateful to PRB members for the meaningful consultation that has taken place over the past days and weeks and for the compromises they have made in getting to this point,” said WRPA CEO Lewis.

“We are still not over the line fully and, clearly, having legally binding contracts in front of our players next week as indicated is now our absolute priority.

“The impasse that was reached this week is of course regrettable for all parties but, having now been granted a place within PRB, the players’ voices can now be heard which will avoid any repeat of situations like this in the future.

“The players are now keen to put this matter behind them and concentrate on preparations for one of the biggest matches in the international sporting calendar in Cardiff on Saturday.”

Nigel Walker.

WRU interim CEO Nigel Walker added: “The PRB has been agile and receptive to the players’ requests and the players have, equally, been responsible and reasonable in their dealings with the PRB which is a credit to all parties.

“We are all motivated by a genuine desire to get things right for the future of Welsh rugby and this unites us.

“We will all now put this matter behind us and I know the nation will also unite as one behind the team when they face England in Cardiff on Saturday.

“The game is on and, whilst there is still some detail to discuss and some fine tuning to be done in our negotiations at PRB, this is undoubtedly been a linchpin moment from which we can build.”