Wales stars agree pay cut as Premiership Rugby explores ways to restart season

Wales’ leading internationals are set for a 25 per cent salary reduction for three months from April 1 while Premiership Rugby is working on possible scenarios to restart the season but not until “it is safe to do so”.

The Professional Rugby Board (PRB), representing the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four regional teams – Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – came to an agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA).

It means the four teams will make what has been termed a “vital” cost saving as they tackle the financial impact of coronavirus, with the outbreak of the pandemic leading to an indefinite suspension of the PRO14 last month.

Any player earning £25,000 or less per year will not be subject to a pay cut while each of the regions have also applied percentage reductions across all full-time staff.

Amanda Blanc, the PRB’s independent chair, said: “Rugby is a team sport and it is gratifying to note that all parties from players to senior coaches and executive staff agreed to terms which will help us safeguard the future of our game.

“For our professional players in particular this has been a really tough decision, they are at the very sharp end of our business, but they are also our biggest cost.

“But they are in the midst of short careers, many in the prime of those careers and we are asking them to make a financial sacrifice that they won’t have planned for.

“We explored a range of options, including deferment of pay, but have agreed on a reduction once all the relevant information and scenarios were considered.

“They have accepted that this is being done out of necessity, because we want to be in position to immediately resume when current circumstances subside.

“We are extremely grateful to the WRPA and its members for their exemplary attitude during our recent conversations and are delighted to see our players continue to be an inspiration to us all.”

The 2019/20 Premiership campaign has also been delayed indefinitely, having last staged games on March 8.

Premiership Rugby organisers are liaising with the Rugby Football Union, clubs and medical staff on a number of potential scenarios.

It said in a statement: “The intention is to play all games and complete the season as soon as it can be done safely.

“In the meantime, Premiership Rugby continues to give its full support to the lockdown measures and encourage everyone to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Premiership Rugby is also in discussions with the RFU over postponing the Gallagher Premiership final, where they will donate 2,500 tickets to NHS staff and other key workers.

Premiership Rugby’s chief executive Darren Childs added: “Following a series of constructive meetings with our clubs, investors, players’ representatives, commercial and broadcast partners, and the RFU, we have agreed on our approach to restart rugby, as soon as it is safe to do so.

“This is not an easy conversation. We are dealing with a catastrophic pandemic that is unprecedented in our lifetimes, the effects of which are heartbreaking and devastating.

“We also must recognise that when the pandemic is finally at an end; there will still be the economic challenge for many years to come. The markets and businesses that people rely upon are not immune to this virus.

Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs
Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs

“Many livelihoods are built on professional sport and Premiership Rugby is proud to be home to many of the world’s greatest players. But the livelihoods are not just those of talented players, there are many vital roles across the clubs: from academy teams to medics, canteen staff to groundspeople.

“So, I’m proud of how our clubs, staff and players have pulled together to make swift and dignified decisions to preserve the sustainability of their independent businesses in order to sustain the challenges ahead.

“The people in these businesses should know that we are creatively working with government and medical professionals to come back promptly, as soon as we know that it is safe to do so.

“Therefore, we all remain committed to finding a way to play, so long as we can do this safely, and with the welfare of players, staff and fans at the heart of every decision.”