After averting Six Nations strike, Wales want to silence the laughter against England

Wales captain Ken Owens said he hoped the country would no longer be the "laughing stock" of rugby now Saturday's Six Nations international against England had been confirmed after a potential strike by Welsh players was averted.

The showpiece match in Cardiff was at risk because of the dispute, with the WRU facing losses of up to £9 million ($11 million) if the game at a packed Principality Stadium did not take place.

"We felt we had to make a stand, but the conversations that have taken place over the last 10 days or so have shown that some positive resolutions can be found," said Owens.

"The players are satisfied, hence why the game is on on Saturday. It has been very tough, hugely frustrating.

"But we have fronted up in training and prepared as we would for any Test match and we are looking forward to getting out there and going toe-to-toe with England," added the 36-year-old Scarlets hooker.

All professional players in Wales were invited to a meeting at the team's training base to discuss issues with the Professional Rugby Board (PRB), which handles contractual issues, on Wednesday -- a deadline set by Welsh players for progress on the matter.

- 'Crisis after crisis' -

Many of the players' existing deals at the four Welsh regional sides expire at the end of the season.

A new financial agreement between the four Welsh regions -- Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets -- and the WRU had still to be confirmed in writing and even after Wednesday's announcement, this issue appeared to be unresolved.

"It's got to be a long-term solution because Welsh rugby can't keep going on this merry-go-round of crisis after crisis because it's affecting everybody in the game - players, supporters, administrators, grass roots clubs," explained Owens.

"We need to do it collaboratively to put Welsh rugby back at the top of world rugby, and not the laughing stock, which I think we are at the moment."

Nigel Walker, the acting WRU chief executive, speaking alongside Owens, said: "I'm pleased to announce that after extensive conversations and discussions over the last week the Wales-England game will go ahead as scheduled."

Walker added: "Ken and I and some of the senior players will be meeting more regularly than perhaps we have in the past."

Wales players had also called for the controversial 60-cap minimum Test selection rule for players at clubs outside of the country to be scrapped.

Walker, a former Wales wing, said the rule remained but, significantly, the number of caps had been reduced to 25.

Players also wanted representation at PRB board meetings and a review of proposed fixed-variable contracts where only 80 percent of a salary is guaranteed, with the remaining 20 percent made up by bonus-related payments.

"Gareth Lewis, chief executive of the WRPA (Welsh Rugby Players Association), attended his first PRB meeting earlier today," said Walker.

"He's got a standing invite and he will be invited to the Rugby Management Board."

Turning to the vexed issue of pay, Walker said: "Going forward we'll have a hybrid model where there'll be the fixed and variable.

"But there will also be a solely fixed model and the agent, player and the region can choose which one they want to have discussions about."

Wales coach Warren Gatland is set to name his team on Thursday, having delayed Tuesday's scheduled announcement because of the unrest.

Wales have lost their opening two games of the Six Nations for the first time in 16 years, with defeat by Ireland followed by a record 35-7 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.

Off the field, Steve Phillips resigned as WRU chief executive last month following a BBC documentary that aired allegations of sexism, racism and homophobia at the governing body.

England will arrive in Cardiff bidding for a second win in three games under new coach Steve Borthwick, with captain Owen Farrell saying the chaotic build-up would make little difference as Wales players needed no extra incentive when confronted by their arch-rivals.

"You would do well to fire them up (the crowd) even more," Farrell said Tuesday, "It (the Principality Stadium) is always a brilliant atmosphere."