Phil Egan
Phil Egan

10:36 16 Apr 2020



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New Zealand's top players have accepted a 50% freeze as New Zealand's players' association said it was preparing for the worst possible case of no more professional rugby this year.

New Zealand Rugby have confirmed that almost $25 million or 50 per cent, of the remaining forecasted player spend will be frozen as a result of the coronavirus crisis which has seen sport suspended around the world.

The New Zealand government is expected to announce a slight easing of COVID-19 restrictions next week, but has warned this will not immediately mean a resumption of events which attract mass gatherings.

The cutbacks will apply to Super Rugby players, including All Blacks, the women's Black Ferns and the sevens programmes - with NZR attempting to protect players on retainers of less than $50,000.

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 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.

"The players signalled their desire to play their part right from the get-go and the conversations over the past few weeks have been very constructive. It was vital the sport was ready for whenever we can get back on the field."

NZRPA Chief Executive Rob Nichol said: "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.

"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 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.

"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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