Negotiations stall over Welsh player pay cuts

Wales players in a squad huddle during the 2020 Six Nations
Wales players in a squad huddle during the 2020 Six Nations

Negotiations over continued pay cuts for Welsh players have stalled.

In April, the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) reached an agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA) over a 25% salary reduction that would last for three months.

Talks to extend that deal have yet to reach an agreement, with dispute over how players can recoup lost earnings.

Negotiations will continue with the hopes the issue can be resolved before the Pro14 season resumes on 21 August.

The PRB represent the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four regions Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets.

With no rugby played in Wales since March, the WRU could lose £50m if it does not host international matches for the rest of this year.

WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips and Wales head coach Wayne Pivac are among the senior executives who have accepted continued 25% pay cuts, while other staff members have had a 10% reduction.

The WRPA have previously said “it is not appropriate to put players in comparative terms with the game’s administrators with no employment certainty beyond rugby retirement”.

It is understood the WRPA and the players are willing to agree to a further 12 months of 25% pay cuts, on top of the three months they have already suffered.

But they are unhappy about the proposals presented by the PRB on how to potentially reclaim lost earnings.

A chance to recoup lost wages is important to the players, who feel they should be able to share in future profits after agreeing to pay sacrifices now to preserve the game in Wales.

One of the sticking points was the scheme created for players to try and recoup their losses, which is deemed by the players to be unfair.

The proposals were thought to exclude any player from the scheme who extends his contract over the next three years or leaves Wales.

It is a scheme that appears to rule out most players, with the only individuals exempt being those who renegotiate contracts they are happy with in an agreed timeline.

The WPRA has said in previous statements every person in Welsh rugby should have the opportunity to try and recoup their losses.

Players now believe this is not the case for them and fear the PRB has not acknowledged these concerns.

It is understood no player strikes have been discussed by the WRPA, with both sides still striving to reach an agreement.

In July 2020, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Rugby Players Ireland reached an agreement on a pay cut for the four provincial sides’ players.

Players earning more than 25,000 euros a year will face a 10% salary reduction from 1 July to 31 December. They will also have a 10% salary deferral, with 5% subject to a retrospective salary reduction pending the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

BBC News