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Opinion: Wooden Spoon Wales are deep in crisis and are not looking likely to escape

A week on from another famous Italian win in Cardiff, Wales are in a great period of turmoil. A disastrous Six Nations campaign resulted in Wales’ worst performance in the competition in 21 years.

It remains to be seen what Wales’ next steps should be and how they can move forward from what is ultimately one of the darkest periods in Welsh rugby. This appears to be only surface level damage and there is more going on behind the scenes within the professional game in Wales.

It can be argued that Wales’ performance at the 2024 Six Nations was coming. With numerous players moving abroad and some declaring themselves ineligible for national team selection, it was clear that this season would be very different to what spectators have seen in recent years.

Injuries have certainly not helped the Welsh side with many experienced players side lined over the course of the Six Nations. As a result, Wales’ squad depth was severely impacted and many new and inexperienced players were called up to fill the spaces left behind.

Against Italy, their replacement front row of Evan Lloyd, Kemsley Mathias and Harri O’Connor had just two Test caps between them. Furthermore, Louis Rees-Zammit’s sudden departure to the NFL hours before Gatland was due to announce Wales’ Six Nations squad, compounded the fact further that Welsh rugby was in trouble.

Whilst Wales did show some signs of potential with their new and disrupted squad, particularly against Scotland and England, losses were seemingly inevitable. Out of their five games, the matches against Scotland and England were the most winnable but performing well and recording victories in them would have papered over the ever-increasing cracks that are present in the rugby landscape in Wales at the moment. Warren Gatland has been producing excellent Wales sides for years despite of background issues and the Welsh system.

However, this appears to have unravelled now and Wales do need to go back to the drawing board. Welsh professional rugby is broken and it is now obvious that it needs rescuing. The four Welsh regions are suffering financially, resulting in many players choosing to play for teams outside of Wales.

Joe Hawkins was destined to be the starting centre for Wales for the foreseeable future; but after a move to Exeter Chiefs in the English Premiership he is no longer eligible for selection. After his move, he revealed that he was on an academy contract whilst at the Ospreys with no indication that he would be offered an improved contract.

This highlights the financial restrictions that the Welsh teams are facing and if this continues, then many more promising youngsters may be forced to move away from Wales.

There is much uncertainty surrounding Welsh rugby currently. From a shocking Six Nations campaign, Gatland being denied his resignation and increasingly worrying financial futures for the Welsh professional sides, Welsh rugby is looking particularly bleak.

Improvements may be made in the future with returning players from injury and time to lay down foundations for a new generation of Welsh rugby. But in the current rugby landscape, without significant financial support, the latest generation of young talent could be lost and Wales could be looking at years in crisis.