The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) have finally reached an agreement on a new pay deal following lengthy negotiations. The two parties had been locked in talks about potential pay cuts for weeks, and have now put in place a new deal to cover the second half of the season.

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Rugby players in Ireland had been on a pay deferral scheme since March, when the coronavirus pandemic saw rugby seasons suspended across the globe.

Those pay deferrals had ranged from 10% to 50%, depending on a player’s salary level. That pay deferral scheme was only in place until the end of June, and it had been reported that the IRFU had wanted to replace that arrangement with salary reductions of up to 20%.

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Talks between the two parties hit a major bump last month when the RPI issued a statement outlining their unhappiness after reports of those 20% reductions surfaced in the media.

However the two parties have now agreed a new deal, which will protect the lowest earners in the Irish game.

Under the new agreement, players who earn up to €25,000 per annum will not have their salaries impacted.

Players who earn over €25,000 per annum will see a 10% salary reduction from July 1 to December 31.

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They will also see a 10% salary deferral for the same period, although 5% of that deferral will be subject to a retrospective salary reduction “pending the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the IRFU, said: “Irish Rugby, like all sports organisations, businesses and society in general, has been severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis with major uncertainty continuing around our future financial income streams.

“The IRFU, the Provinces and Clubs remain in a highly precarious financial situation, making it critically important that an agreement was reached on this matter.”

RPI Chief Executive Simon Keogh added: “Aware of the significant challenges facing not just rugby but the country as a whole as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe the agreement reached is reflective of our shared ambition to see rugby at all levels continue to thrive.

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“We would like to acknowledge the good working relationship with the IRFU that has underpinned the process and will continue to contribute to Ireland’s on-field success.

“The players have already returned to work and are focused on preparing for the much-anticipated return to competitive rugby in August.”

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