England and Leicester prop Ellis Genge has shed further light on plans to set up a new players’ union after feeling some people were badly advised after being asked to accept pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Genge insists his proposed new organisation would complement rather than rival the Rugby Players’ Association.
The RPA represents more than 1,200 past and present professional players, both male and female, but Genge claims his new group – initially thought to number upwards of 100 – would have an advantage because “we wouldn’t have to answer to a governing body”.
Weekend media coverage had outlined how moves were afoot to form a breakaway union, the sense of injustice further fuelled by how clubs allegedly colluded not to sign each other players, leaving about 55 top-flight players in limbo as they are coming to the end of their current contracts on June 30 with nothing agreed beyond that date.
There was also speculation that some clubs were looking to reduce the £7million salary cap, a development that would put a further squeeze on player wages if implemented.
Now Genge has opened up on on the plan, the 25-year-old telling the BBC Sport website: “We are not making a new RPA. I think they do really good stuff with welfare in rugby and they look after people really well. But I do feel that people were poorly advised. People were advised from the off to sign the contracts without reading them, almost. Commercially, I didn’t think everyone was being represented very well.
'I actually had to retire over a Zoom call. I had all the boys, all the staff and there is me getting emotional'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 26, 2020
“So I’m trying to put together a players’ union. It is not to replace the RPA or to combat the RFU. Honestly, it is nothing of the sort. It is just so people can get really good advice from trusted professionals in those specific fields: around commercial and legal.”
Most Gallagher Premiership clubs asked players to accept blanket 25 per cent pay cuts following the suspension of sport in March, but RPA boss Damian Hopley defended the work of his organisation amid the pandemic-enforced financial crisis. “We believe that we have tried to get as much advice, information and direction to the players as possible,” he said.
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