South Africa Rugby have announced 25 per cent pay cuts just six months after the Siya Kolisi-skippered Springboks lifted the World Cup for the third time in their history. Rassie Erasmus’ side defeated England in the final in Yokohama but the coronavirus has since massively impacted on SA Rugby’s economic outlook. 

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Looking to make savings of R1.2billion (£53.4m), a 21-day window was opened for players and staff to cancel their contracts with immediate effect. Some players opted to do this, hooker Malcolm Marx among the list of departures after securing a Top League deal.  

However, those who have opted to remain in the fold locally in South Africa – including the likes of winger Makazole Mapimpi who spurned a hugely lucrative offer from Japan – will now lose a minimum one-quarter of their salary as rugby officials try to better balance the books. 

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Explaining how they hoped to save R1.2bn by the end of 2020, a South Africa Rugby statement said: “The economies will be achieved by reduced expenditure following the cancellation of competitions (49.7 per cent of savings), cuts in other operational budgets (37.3 per cent) and in salary reductions (13 per cent).

“The plan was formulated and agreed by bodies representing SA Rugby, MyPlayers (the players’ representative organisation), Sport Employees’ Unite (employees’ trade union) and the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO – representing the provincial unions).

“The salary cuts amount to 25 per cent of total remuneration across the industry, including all employees, players and officials – although persons earning below R20,000 per month were exempted from any cuts. Higher earners have agreed to cuts on a sliding scale of up to 43 per cent.”

Thankful that the budget-cutting measures had been agreed, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux added: “It was a complex process to find alignment with a number of entities representing 1,396 people in the South African rugby industry but throughout everyone collaborated fully.

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“The group identified our collective areas of financial risk and what savings had to be made and then identified a plan to mitigate those risks. It has meant salary cuts for many, but we have put together a plan that will ensure the industry will be positioned and resourced to get straight back to action just as soon as we are permitted.

“From the moment we went into lockdown we have been preparing and workshopping internal guidelines and protocols for return to play and return to work. Those are complete and are ready to be actioned as soon as we get Government’s go-ahead.

“We have presented our case to the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture and believe we have a strong case. We do not run hospitals or build ventilators and we are not an industry that is critical to the South African economy, but we do believe that we add huge value to national life in other ways.

“The sight of the Springboks running out for the first time since winning the Rugby World Cup would be a powerful milestone on the nation’s journey to the other side of this crisis as well as being a boost for national morale.

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“While the return to play of our provincial teams – even if it is behind closed doors – would similarly be hugely beneficial to a nation in lockdown. We understand that there are bigger agendas at play but believe the risk of transmission could be well managed by our protocols. We trust the minister and Government will view our case seriously.”

The Industry Savings Plan came into effect on May 1 and is initially scheduled to run until the end of December.

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