Welsh rugby’s Professional Rugby Board (PRB) has reached an agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA) for a 25 per cent pay cut, effective from April 1 and valid for the next three months. This comes after it was announced on March 31 that Wales coach Wayne Pivac and WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips had each taken a 25 per cent pay cut, while non-playing WRU staff members were taking a 10 per cent wage cut.
However, there was no agreement until Wednesday with the players in a country where recent structural changes see the WRU pay 80 per cent of the salaries of the 38 top-ranking players with the regions they play for covering the remaining 20 per cent. Other players are paid entirely by the regions.
Players union boss Barry Cawte, who earlier in the week had a letter leaked to media in Wales, said after the agreement: “We have been involved throughout these difficult discussions. The WRPA exists to look after the welfare of players, but it’s clear that extraordinary times call for measures such as those agreed this week.
“I can only say how proud I am of our members who from the beginning expressed a desire to do whatever was needed to help protect the game and their colleagues… all options were explored along this journey. We have a broad membership with players at different points in their careers and throughout we have looked to come to a solution that worked across the board.
“The players are well aware that sacrifices are being made across the country and are keen to do their bit so that rugby will be ready to go when this crisis passes. In a sign of solidarity for all our rugby colleagues, all WRPA staff will also be taking the same pay cut.”
Aside from the players agreeing to the 25 per cent wage cut, each of the regions will also apply salary percentage reductions across all full-time staff.
Amanda Blanc, independent chair of the PRB in Wales, added: “For our professional players in particular this has been a really tough decision. They are at the very sharp end of our business, but they are also our biggest cost. But they are in the midst of short careers, many in the prime of those careers and we are asking them to make a financial sacrifice that they won’t have planned for.
“We explored a range of options, including deferment of pay, but have agreed on a reduction once all the relevant information and scenarios were considered. They have accepted that this is being done out of necessity because we want to be in a position to immediately resume when current circumstances subside.
“Not to act now would be negligent, given our shared goal is for Welsh rugby to remain intact when we emerge from this period. To do that we must reduce costs and preserve cash so that we can continue to operate. Having made operational savings across the businesses, this is the next unavoidable step.”
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