Ellis Genge has put plans for the new players union, Rugby Players Epoch, on ice after becoming disillusioned with the laborious challenge of having to individually negotiate with all 13 stakeholder Premiership clubs. The England and Leicester prop generated headlines in April with his idea to form a fresh union separate from the existing Rugby Players’ Association.

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His ambitions secured the support of 128 players but the method of negotiation proved unwieldy and he has now sidelined hopes for his planned organisation to become a fresh new voice in the game. 

Amid reported chaos at Premiership clubs where negotiations are taking place to make the temporary 25 per cent Covid-19 wage cuts permanent, Genge and Leicester teammate Greg Bateman were told in a meeting held virtually with Premiership Rugby Limited’s Darren Childs and Phil Winstanley that they would have to negotiate with all clubs individually rather than bargain collectively. 

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That stumbling block meant sidelining Rugby Players Epoch, the union that would have taken one per cent of a player’s salary as its annual membership fee. 

“In two years’ time, if boys turn around and say, ‘F****** hell, they took 25 per cent of our wages and we couldn’t do anything about it,’ it will be a case of ‘you could have (done), you just didn’t want to’. Well, 128 people did and the rest of them didn’t,” Genge told the House of Rugby podcast. 

“(RPE) is not happening at the moment. If we find an opportunity to kick-start it again, then we will. For the time being, it’s a case of (players) dealing with their club independently.

“It’s the people who have literally thrown all their eggs into one basket and (clubs) are like: ‘Right, 25 per cent less’. It could be 50 per cent less. (Clubs) can do whatever they want. They can end your contract at any time.”

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PRL clubs voted last week to reduce the salary cap by £1.4million, bringing it down £5m for the 2021/22 season. In that, a loophole was created whereby only 75 per cent of existing contracts would count towards that revised cap if a pay cut was agreed by June 18.  

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