Major Wales rugby players will benefit from a 25% pay cut as the sport deals with the financial impact of the coronavirus.
The Professional Rugby Board (PRB), representing the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four regions – Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – has reached an agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players ‘Association (WRPA).
The salary reduction, effective from April 1, will last three months.
However, the reduction will not apply to players earning £ 25,000 per year or less.
WRPA wanted to postpone 25% of players’ gross monthly base salaries from April to August, with deferred money being paid next year.
Instead, players will see their wages cut by 25%, as announced earlier for Wales head coach Wayne Pivac and WRU general manager Martyn Phillips.
In addition to player salary cuts, a PRB statement said, “Each region has also applied percentage reductions to all full-time staff, which is managed locally to reflect the different business models of professional gaming. . “
Under a tape system introduced last year, the WRU pays 80% of the salaries of the 38 highest ranked players, with player regions contributing the remaining 20%.
Salaries for players outside this higher level are fully paid by the regions.
The coronavirus pandemic means that rugby at all levels in Wales has been suspended, which has a huge cost for everyone involved in the sport.
“This is the next inevitable step”
“For our professional players in particular, the decision was really difficult to make, they are at the forefront of our business, but they also represent our biggest cost,” said Amanda Blanc, president of PRB.
“But they are in the middle of short careers, many are in the prime of their lives and we are asking them to make a financial sacrifice that they would not have expected. “
“We explored a range of options, including salary deferral, but agreed to a reduction once all of the relevant information and scenarios have been reviewed.
“They agreed to do it out of necessity, because we want to be able to resume immediately when the current circumstances calm down.
“We are extremely grateful to WRPA and its members for their exemplary attitude during our recent conversations and we are delighted to see our players continue to be an inspiration to all of us.
“Obviously, in the absence of sport, the overall income of Welsh rugby has dropped significantly and it is unclear when this could change.
“Failure to act now would be negligent, given that our common goal is that Welsh rugby remains intact when we come out of this period.
“To do this, we need to cut costs and preserve cash so that we can continue to operate. Having made operational savings across all businesses, this is the next inevitable step.
“The PRB met several times to assess the situation and the process was collaborative, all parties having determined that a coherent solution was needed. “
“Sacrifices are made across the country”
Barry Cawte, Executive Director of WRPA, said, “We have been involved throughout these difficult discussions.
“WRPA exists to look after the well-being of players, but it is clear that extraordinary times call for measures such as those agreed this week.
“I can only say how proud I am of our members who, from the start, have expressed a desire to do whatever is necessary to protect football and their colleagues. “
“Our executive committee and our group of senior players have worked tirelessly to ensure that we can come to an agreement that will play an important role in protecting the game.”
“All options were explored during this trip, and these discussions took place in a context where other sports have made their way through the same issues.
“The players are well aware that sacrifices are being made across the country and are eager to do their part, so that rugby will be ready to go when this crisis passes.
“As a sign of solidarity for all our rugby colleagues, all WRPA staff will also benefit from the same salary cut. “