Rugby fans hoping to tune in for their latest fix of Six Nations action will have to wait an extra week.
Ireland kept up their hopes of a Grand Slam after beating France at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin last weekend. Scotland made it two wins from two after a humbling of Wales at Murrayfield.
England bounced back after disappointment in the first round of the competition to claim a comprehensive 31-14 win over Italy at Twickenham. But the competition is on a rest week this weekend and will be back in action in seven days time.
A row over contracts between the Wales players and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) reached boiling points. Players in Wales are centrally contracted and many - general estimates are between 70 and 100 - have deals that are set to expire at the end of this season but have not yet received offers with their regional teams.
It has been reported that the Welsh players are considering a strike ahead of the game against England next weekend, casting it into doubt. Wales’ most capped player Alun Wyn Jones said: “It has come to a point where people are being affected, there is potential to affect families.
“This was supposed to be sorted a long time ago. Even if players who had the opportunity, or might have had the opportunity, to go somewhere else might not get that now because other teams are filling their rosters.”
Why is there no Six Nations rugby this weekend?
The six nations tournament starts at the beginning of February and runs through to March. Each team plays five games - having two homes games, three away one year and then three home, two away, the next - but the tournament is split up by a couple of breaks.
In 2023 it is structured like this:
- Round one - 4-5 February
- Round two - 11-12 February
- Break - 18-19 February
- Round three - 25-26 February
- Break - 4-5 March
- Round four - 11-12 March
- Round five - 18-19 March
Why does the Six Nations have breaks?
The break is in place to give players a chance to have rest and recovery, to make the action as exciting as possible throughtout the tournament. The Six Nations is an extremely physical competition and playing five test matches in five weeks is seen as likely too much for the players.
What are the Six Nations fixtures next weekend?
The competition will return on the weekend of 25 and 26 February, with the following games:
- Italy vs Ireland - 2.15pm, ITV
- Wales vs England - 4.45pm, BBC One
- France vs Scotland - 3pm ITV
Could Wales players strike?
Due to the on-going contract dispute between Welsh players and WRU, the posibility of a strike for the England game has been discusses. However Alun Wyn Jones has stressed it would be the “last option”.
Wales are currently preparing as normal to face England, with their Six Nations campaign in tatters on the field following comprehensive defeats against Ireland and Scotland. It seems inconceivable that the England game, which would generate millions of pounds for the WRU, will not go ahead, but the squad has already made its presence felt by deciding to pause filming with Netflix, who is making a behind-the-scenes documentary on this season’s Six Nations.
Jones asked for Netflix to not film him arriving for a press conference alongside Gatland on Thursday (16 February) with its camera crew then leaving the room before it started, while the players also left a sponsors’ dinner early at a Cardiff hotel less than 24 hours earlier.