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All Blacks facing 50 per cent pay-cuts in 2020 as Coronavirus crisis kicks in

Threat of no rugby this year has led to New Zealand Rugby Union considering severe cuts.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THE NEW ZEALAND rugby union (NZR) has announced that they plan to freeze 50 per cent of their “forecasted player spend” this year if there is no more rugby played in 2020.

With countries in lockdown and sport ceasing to be played, income streams have dried up. Doubt exists over New Zealand’s capacity to host this summer’s touring sides, Wales and Scotland, while the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals are also under threat.

In addition, Super Rugby games have also been suspended after seven rounds of the competition.

NZR Chief Executive, Mark Robinson, said: “Like most businesses, people are your greatest asset, and our staff and players are most certainly our number one priority. We wanted to come up with solutions that worked for all our players and ensured that all sectors of our game were sharing in the financial pain we are currently enduring.”

Robinson’s thoughts were backed up by New Zealand Rugby Player Association chief, Rob Nichol. “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.

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

“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.”

The expenditure freeze covers the base salary of players, assembly payments and other financial benefits and incentives, as well as reductions in player-funded welfare and development activities.

NZR Head of Professional Rugby, Chris Lendrum, added: “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.”

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Garry Doyle

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