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Men's Rugby Union Players union helping players fight wage cuts

EVERY Premiership player has received legal guidance on how to contest the league-wide 25 per cent pay cuts implemented due to the coronavirus shutdown.

The Rugby Players Association (RPA) has written to all its members, providing a template on how to challenge the Premiership clubs’ requests for players to accept pay cuts while the league is out of action.

In a letter, RPA chiefs have asked their staff take 25 per cent pay cuts in “solidarity” with those expected to receive similar reductions at Premiership clubs.

Premiership club bosses believe the English top-flight league could be out of action until September, cutting off all revenue for as long as six months.

The clubs have reported initial positive responses to the requests for players to accept pay cuts.

But increasing numbers of players are understood to be seriously considering contesting the planned cuts — and the RPA has now provided a step-by-step guide for its members to do just that.

“If you don’t want to accept the pay cut, what do you do?” reads the RPA letter.

“There will be different approaches across different clubs — some players have been asked to sign letters, other clubs have simply told the players the cut is happening.

“If you want to keep your options open it is important to do so in writing, to show that you did not simply ‘go with the flow’ — this is called reserving your position.

“Again, this will be personal choice but you might also come to a collective squad decision on the approach.

“If you do not wish to agree to the pay reduction now (and want to keep this under review by reserving your position), to best protect your interests, the below note from our lawyers covers the essential legal points that would need to be confirmed to the club in writing.

“You can put this on the record now, even though some clubs have confirmed the cut will start from next month.”

Sport’s shutdown due to the coronavirus has stalled rugby at all levels in England, with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) projecting revenue losses up to £50 million in the next 18 months.

England head coach Eddie Jones and the RFU executive team have all accepted pay cuts in excess of 25 per cent, and now RPA staff will follow that lead.

“As your union we acknowledge our responsibility in providing you with information on your options and legal rights,” read the RPA letter.

“It is worth nothing that, equally, at the RPA we have also had to make some very difficult decisions and, in a show of solidarity, we are asking all RPA employees to take pay cuts in line with those being made across the Premiership.”

Rugby’s legal guidance came on the same day Australian rules football players agreed to take a 50 per cent pay cut and to extend the Australian Football League until December if necessary to complete a season disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Bitter pay talks between league officials and players representatives ended today with an agreement that players’ pay will be cut by 50 per cent until May 31.

That will increase to 70 per cent if matches do not resume after May 31 but will stay at 50 per cent if games are played after that date, even if there are no crowds.

The league is aiming for a reduced 17-round season but the grand final is still likely to be played much later than its traditional date in the last weekend in September.

“The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating on the community and the football industry,” players’ representative Paul Marsh said.

“The players have been rocked by what has transpired all over the world in recent weeks and want to play their role to ensure that our great game comes through this strong and united.

“The players have moved quickly to come to an agreement with the AFL and the outcome is a fair one.”

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he would take a 50 per cent pay cut in solidarity with the league’s almost 800 players, spread over 18 clubs.

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