NZ Rugby: We had to act now

The significant pay cuts introduced by New Zealand Rugby were designed with the worst-case scenario in mind – where no rugby will be played at all in 2020.

READ: New Zealand Rugby introduces 50% player wage cuts

On Thursday, New Zealand Rugby confirmed that the country’s top rugby players are set to lose as much as $25 million this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

NZR Players’ Association chief Rob Nichol explained how they had come to the decision to freeze 50% of forecasted player payments in response to Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The players are committed to playing their part in ensuring the long-term future of the sport and to ensure the game best manages the financial implications of Covid-19,’ Nichol said.

‘In contemplating a scenario based on no professional rugby in 2020, NZR and the NZRPA together recognised the need to act now to prepare the game and the players for this, even if there is every intention of doing all we can to avoid it.

‘As a result, we have agreed to immediately freeze approximately $25 million, or 50%, of the remaining forecasted player spend in 2020.

‘Our payment model is complex and it has taken time to determine a model that treats all players equitably. The model we have agreed protects those on retainers of less than $50,000. While not all players are being treated exactly the same, we felt these changes were the fairest way to address player payments and benefits, considering all the different ways our players are remunerated.

‘In the event that this financial scenario eventuates, the frozen payments and benefits would become waived permanently. Alternatively, if professional rugby can resume and the financial outlook improves, then some of the frozen payments and benefits could be reinstated,’ Nichol added.

‘Moving forward, the players remain committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the game survives and is best placed to take advantage of the opportunity to get back up and running as soon as is safely possible.’

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Craig Lewis