Wales international Josh Turnbull has revealed how much his life was taken over during the lockdown by the salary cut talks concerning the four Guinness PRO14 regions which ended in stalemate.
The Cardiff Blues flanker, who won the last of his ten Test caps in Argentina in 2018, was a Welsh Rugby Players’ Association player representative on behalf of his club during the talks along with teammate Ellis Jenkins, an experience that consisted of endless Zoom calls.
No agreement was ultimately reached in the lengthy deliberations between the WRPA and the professional game board which takes care of the elite levels of the game for the Welsh Rugby Union.
Clubs are now negotiating with players on an individual basis after the expiry of a temporary three-month 25 per cent cut at the start of the rugby lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, with rugby in Wales set to restart this weekend with a pair of PRO14 derbies in Llanelli and Swansea, Turnbull, who captains Cardiff at Scarlets on Saturday, has reflected how salary cut talk took up so much of his time.
Welsh rugby player at the heart of 'brutally honest' pay negotiations reveals what's been going on during hours of talkshttps://t.co/GPnyNDNJCP
— WalesOnline Rugby (@WalesRugby) August 20, 2020
In an interview with walesonline.co.uk, the 32-year-old said: “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. You could spend the first four hours of the day on it on a Zoom call and then another couple of hours in the afternoon. It’s literally going from talking with the WRPA and the WRU about where we are financially and then, in the afternoon, you may be speaking to a few of the players. They will ring you up to see what’s going on.
“At times, it felt like I was the one taking the pay cut from the players. For some of the boys, it didn’t sink in quite as it did with some of the others. At times, you just have to be brutally honest and say ‘look, the money is not there anymore, it’s not available and the reality is we are going to have to take cuts’.
“It’s hard to come to terms with. I took it personally as well. Having that 25 per cent cut can be quite a lot to some players and it’s hard to take. Just getting that message across to the players has been a tough thing to have to do. If you ask Ellis as well, he will say he doesn’t ever want to see a Zoom call again talking about pay cuts.”
Getting its message across after what happened in last weekend's Premiership https://t.co/qEFQY654PL
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 21, 2020
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