England players take 25% pay cut for 12 months to offset coronavirus impact

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Jamie George tries to avoid a tackle from Wales' Justin Tipuric
Jamie George says England players “understand the pressures” caused by coronavirus

England men’s squad have accepted a 25% pay cut for the next 12 months to offset the financial impact of Covid-19 on the Rugby Football Union.

The RFU and Rugby Players’ Association have agreed a deal for 2020-21 – with fresh rest periods in the new calendar.

Head coach Eddie Jones agreed to a 25% pay cut in March, with the RFU braced for a £50m loss in revenue.

“We fully understand the pressures so it was vital to agree these provisions,” said hooker Jamie George.

The new agreement includes provisions to protect player welfare in light of a new condensed calendar.

The players will have a one-week break after England conclude their 2020 Six Nations campaign against Italy on 31 October.

After the completion of the four-week Autumn Nations Cup, the players will have two weeks of rest with their clubs.

A New Year England camp has been cancelled and there will be a week off instead of a Six Nations fallow week camp during the 2021 tournament.

The RFU – which in July announced plans to cut a quarter of its workforce – will also partner with Restart, a charity which provides financial, practical and emotional support to professional players and their families who have suffered injury, illness or hardship.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “I would like to thank the players and the RPA for their strong co-operation and collaboration which has enabled us to reach this new agreement.

“This is a special squad of players and their appreciation and understanding of the difficulties being faced across the English game has led to this outcome.

“We are committed to ensuring the RFU runs a sustainable operation to safeguard the future of the game in England and are grateful to the England international playing group for their willingness to accept a reduction in fees to support this.”

In the Premiership, the majority of players took a 25% pay cut from their clubs in March.

England’s men’s and women’s sevens players will not have their contracts renewed and some have joined together to attempt to rebuild the programme themselves.external-link

Analysis

BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones

Given Twickenham will be a quarter full – at the very best – during the autumn, the RFU is poised for revenue losses in the tens of millions.

In normal times, the England players’ match fees – around £23,000 including training fees and image rights – are linked to the huge amount of money generated by the Twickenham machine on an international day.

Therefore it stands to reason the players are now taking a cut, and will still receive around £17k a game.

Meanwhile, the RFU says players will get two weeks’ rest following the autumn schedule. However it is understood this does not necessarily mean straight after the internationals, or on consecutive weekends, and it will instead be a discussion between player and club.

This technically means some England players could be available for the Champions Cup which follows in December, although some will certainly miss those games – another example of how the congested schedule has compromised both this current season and the next one.

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