Welsh rugby’s Professional Rugby Board (PRB) has reached agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA) on proposals for a 25% salary reduction, effective from the 1st of April, which will run for the next three months.
In line with the Welsh Rugby Union’s (WRU) recent announcement about its own full-time staff, the reductions will not apply to players earnings of 25k per annum or less, but each of Wales’ four professional regional teams – Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – will now make a vital 25% cost saving on any player salaries over that amount. Each of the regions have also applied percentage reductions across all full-time staff which is being managed locally to reflect the various business models across the professional game.
The agreement has been brokered between the regions and their players by the PRB – which includes representation from each region and the WRU – and whilst negotiations have been complex, its independent chair Amanda Blanc, was keen to show gratitude to the players and WRPA CEO Barry Cawte for their conduct during the process.
“I would like to put on record my thanks to the WRPA, the regional chairs, and the WRU for their efforts in helping reach this decision,” said Blanc, who was appointed independent chair of the PRB in January.
“Our two guiding principles have been to safeguard the five professional entities in Welsh rugby and to act as fairly and consistently as possible.
“Rugby is a team sport and it is gratifying to note that all parties from players to senior coaches and executive staff agreed to terms which will help us safeguard the future of our game.
“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 position to immediately resume when current circumstances subside.
“We are extremely grateful to the WRPA and its members for their exemplary attitude during our recent conversations and are delighted to see our players continue to be an inspiration to us all.
“Clearly, with no sport taking place, income across the whole of Welsh rugby has dropped significantly and it is not clear when this might change.
“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.
“The PRB has met a number of times to evaluate the situation and the process has been a collaborative one, with all parties determining that a consistent solution was required.”
Barry Cawte, CEO of the WRPA, said “We have been involved throughout these difficult discussions. The WRPA exists to look after the welfare of players, but it is 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.
“Our Executive Committee and senior player group have worked around the clock to ensure we could find an agreement that will play a significant part in protecting the game
“All options were explored along this journey, and these discussions took place against a backdrop of other sports working their way through the same issues.
“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.”