Professional rugby player have threatened a “significant legal dispute” against Premiership Rugby unless urgent talks take place following the unilateral decision to impose a cut to the salary cap.
A strongly-worded statement from the Rugby Players’ Association chairman Mark Lambert criticised the 13 Premier Rugby Limited (PRL) stakeholders for taking such a monumental decision without consulting the players who will be impacted by the cuts, with salaries likely to decrease across the board as contracts are renewed.
With the majority of Premiership rugby players already agreeing to temporary 25 per cent pay cuts since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the RPA feels that there has been “an absolute disregard for the players and the values of the game”, and revealed that ultimatums are being issued to players to agree to amended contracts that will make the reductions permanent.
This, Lambert said, is “a totally unacceptable way to operate”, and such is the strength of anger among the players’ union, further conflict is on the cards unless a peaceful resolution can be found.
“Most of the players have already had temporary 25 per cent pay cuts since March and April as a result of the unprecedented financial challenges exposed by Covid-19,” said Harlequins prop Mark Lambert.
“PRL have been seeking agreement to reduce players’ wages permanently by 25 per cent across all PRL clubs. This was unanimously rejected by the Players’ Board.
“The RPA have been working diligently over the last 12 weeks to seek to avoid a repeat of the damaging situation the game found itself in when the clubs imposed temporary wage cuts on a unilateral basis in mid-March. This latest situation could have been entirely avoided with a collaborative and transparent approach and we now find ourselves heading towards a significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently. In the meantime, the RPA position remains unequivocal: the RPA is opposed to permanent cuts for our members.
“From the outset of this crisis there has been an absolute disregard for the players and the values of the game. Players at some clubs are now being served with ultimatums and being put under undue pressure to sign amended contracts through the manufactured deadline of June 18th. To be clear, this is a totally unacceptable way to operate. Players are the lifeblood of the game and should be treated with respect. Players should not engage with this approach. The RPA will continue to fight for our members throughout this crisis.”