Head coach Warren Gatland says Wales’ 60-man pick rule needs to be looked at

Warren Gatland believes there is a need for discussion about Wales’ 60-man pick rule amid the uncertainty surrounding the futures of several players.

The policy was created in 2017 and players who subsequently signed contracts to trade outside Wales were not considered eligible for Test selection unless they had won 60 or more times.

And the situation has now escalated due to the hiring freeze, which has impacted Wales’ four professional districts: Cardiff, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets.

Wales and the Dragons lock Will Rowlands

Will Rowlands will play in France next season (Mike Egerton/PA)

A new financial agreement between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union has yet to be confirmed in writing, raising concerns that players whose current contracts expire at the end of this season may leave Wales.

Wales and Dragons lockdown Will Rowlands is set to join French club Racing 92 for next season.

The current selection policy means that Gatland will not be in the World Cup squad this year unless the rule is changed or the Welsh game receives a special exemption from the Professional Rugby Board.

“I think that (the 60-point rule) is something we definitely need to talk about,” said Wales head coach Gatland.

We need to be pragmatic and it’s disappointing that some players miss the World Cup. Why shoot ourselves in the foot if we don’t need it?

“There has been a lot of confusion in terms of the classification of the agreement between the union and the regions. I think it will be a positive step forward.

“I can’t blame the players for exploring the options because there is a certain level of uncertainty in Welsh rugby right now, especially for those out of contract.

“They have to think about their personal situation and that’s totally understandable to me. I want to make sure we keep our best players in Wales.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (left) and Ireland head coach Andy Farrell

Wales head coach Warren Gatland and his Irish counterpart Andy Farrell at the Guinness Six Nations launch (John Walton/PA)

“I don’t know if we should be looking at the over 60 rule, because with so much uncertainty in the game in Wales right now, is it fit for purpose?”

Meanwhile, Gatland is enjoying a second return as Welsh bosses ahead of Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations visit to Cardiff on 4 February.

His first spell in the business between 2008 and 2019 saw Wales win four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams, and reach two World Cup semi-finals.

“I think one of the things we’ve done in the past is work incredibly hard as a group, and we will continue to do that.”

“There have been matches in the past where we were able to endure and win against quality opponents due to our fitness.

“I know this group will work hard. If you ask them to go through a brick wall, their answer will be, ‘What do you want us to do once we get past the other side?’ will be.

“We have a new coaching group that we need to place shortly, and the important thing is that we practice clarity about how we want to coach the team.

“We all need to sing from the same page to hope to give us the best possible chance.”

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