NZ rugby players agree to salary cuts due to outbreak

Up to £12 million could be wiped from the pockets of New Zealand’s top rugby players after they agreed to salary cuts due to the pandemic.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association (NZRPA) announced that they have agreed to an expenditure freeze on 50 per cent of this year’s remaining forecasted player spend.

Effective from May 1, the freeze covers the base salary of All Blacks, Super Rugby, sevens and Black Ferns players earning more than $50,000 (£24,000) as well as assembly payments and other financial benefits and incentives.

It will also see reductions in player-funded welfare and development activities.

“Like most businesses, people are your greatest asset, and our staff and players are most certainly our number one priority,” NZR chief Mark Robinson said.

“We wanted to come up with solutions that worked for all our players and ensured that all sectors of our game were sharing in the financial pain we are currently enduring.”

NZRPA boss Rob Nichol said the measures were flexible enough to respond to any changes in the game’s financial standing as the pandemic drags on.

“The players are committed to playing their part in ensuring the long-term future of the sport and to ensure the game best manages the financial implications of Covid-19,” he said.

“In contemplating a scenario based on no professional rugby in 2020, NZR and the NZRPA together recognised the need to act now to prepare the game and the players for this, even if there is every intention of doing all we can to avoid it.

“In the event that this financial scenario eventuates, the frozen payments and benefits would become waived permanently. Alternatively, if professional rugby can resume and the financial outlook improves, then some of the frozen payments and benefits could be reinstated.

“Moving forward, the players remain committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the game survives and is best placed to take advantage of the opportunity to get back up and running as soon as is safely possible.”