Saskatchewan Roughriders continue training camp amid labour negotiations

The Saskatchewan Roughriders continue to run practices as a deal is worked on behind the scenes. Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

With only six days until the Saskatchewan Roughriders first preseason game, the team continues to work on its game amid the ongoing collective bargaining agreement.

On Monday, the CFL Players’ Association rejected the newest CFL proposal.

Read more: Saskatchewan Roughriders resume training camp after CFLPA rejects new offer

Riders kicker Brett Lauther, who represents the team on the CFL Players’ Association, is frustrated it has taken until camp for this issue to be negotiated.

“Realistically, I think the (agreement) should be done before they do free agency,” said Lauther. “They wait until we are here in camp and then both sides are frustrated we can’t get something done and it’s like ‘well do stuff before then’.”

Lauther said at this point, he isn’t entirely sure where the next vote will land.

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“This time around it’s going to come down to whether or not guys want to miss game cheques and go home and potentially move on from football,” said Lauther. “It’s a little bit bigger decision the closer we get.”

Speculation about whether or not the agreement was turned down due to the new ratio rules continues to be a factor, and the introduction of a new CFL team in the near future also impacts the number of Canadians the league would need.

“There’s a lot of talk about Nova Scotia coming in and then 22 other Canadian spots, and filling those,” Lauther explained. “There’s a lot of other things on each side where sometimes it makes a lot of sense and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Read more: Elks focus on Friday’s game in Winnipeg with the CBA hanging in the balance

With negotiation a focus off the field, coaches and players have been focusing on defence on the field.

“Our defence is positionless,” said Defensive Coordinator Jason Shivers. “I talk to them a lot about that. You don’t just learn one position, you have to learn the overall scheme and how you fit into that.”

Shivers stressed the importance of working on the fundamentals throughout training camp.

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“We are big on the fundamentals,” he said. “We’re not trying to out scheme somebody. We want to hit you in your mouth, we want you to know we are there. We’re going to create one on ones and we are gonna create havoc.”

One of the most important groups on the field is the linebacker crew, a unit where the coaches are loving what they are seeing.

“It’s definitely exciting seeing those guys run around right now,” Shivers said. “You don’t have to push them, they are pushing everyone in the group and making everybody better.”

Regardless of whether or not a deal gets done soon, both players and coaches want to be ready when the time comes to play football.

“We want to be playing football at the end of the day in front of all the great fans in this league and fill Mosaic Stadium and hopefully get something done so we can potentially play in the Grey Cup and win it at home this year,” said Lauther.

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We want to play’: Stamps still optimistic collective agreement can be reached – May 24, 2022

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