England’s players have accepted a 25% wage reduction for the 2020-21 season, the Rugby Football Union has announced. The one-year arrangement with England’s men follows talks between the RFU and the Rugby Players’ Association as a result of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The RFU chief executive, Bill Sweeney, said: “I would like to thank the players and the RPA for their strong cooperation and collaboration which has enabled us to reach this new agreement. This is a special squad of players and their appreciation and understanding of the difficulties being faced across the English game has led to this outcome.”
Under the terms of the new agreement, the RFU has made firm commitments around a range of player welfare initiatives with management of the player welfare process and clearly defined rest periods.
These include a one-week break after the Six Nations match against Italy in Rome on 31 October, and post-England autumn matches, two weeks to be taken with their clubs. There will also be the cancellation of a new year camp and a week off during the Six Nations to replace a fallow week camp.
Sweeney said: “We are committed to ensuring the RFU runs a sustainable operation to safeguard the future of the game in England and are grateful to the England international playing group for their willingness to accept a reduction in fees over the next 12 months to support this. We are committed to looking after their wellbeing during this challenging period of fixtures.”
England’s Saracens hooker Jamie George said: “The playing group wanted to address some concerns around welfare and rest for the EPS [elite player squad] and we are encouraged by the progress made by all stakeholders.
“We fully understand the pressures around the next 12 months both on and off the pitch, so it was vital for us to agree these provisions going forward.”
The RFU has also confirmed they will officially partner with Restart – the charity of the RPA and players – which provides financial, practical and emotional support to professional players and their families who have suffered injury, illness or hardship.
RPA chief executive Damian Hopley said: “The RPA would like to place on record our thanks to the RFU for their collaboration in agreeing to this extension. It is a very challenging time for rugby in England but the EPS and RPA are very grateful this process has been conducted in good faith throughout despite these trying circumstances.”