'Rugby players' union sowing division': Premiership clubs

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London (AFP)

Premiership Rugby clubs on Friday accused the players' union in England of sowing division and creating uncertainty in a row over a salary cap reduction.

The changes, agreed this week, were made in response to the "significant financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic", according to Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL).

The salary cap will be reduced in the 2021/22 campaign and return to the current level before the start of the 2024/25 season at the latest.

From 2021/22, the cap will be set at £5 million ($6.25 million), down from £6.4 million.

Significantly, the changes cover teams' overall budgets rather than individual players' contracts.

But the Rugby Players' Association (RPA) criticised the lack of a "collaborative and transparent approach" from PRL and warned of a "significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently".

It said it was "unequivocally" opposed to making such cuts permanent.

The 13 clubs, including newly promoted Newcastle, issued a statement on Friday saying that the RPA had agreed to a reduction in their members' wages.

"In private discussions with Premiership Rugby, the RPA accepted and understood that the need for salary reductions were required and stated 25 per cent was reasonable," Friday's statement said.

The clubs said the actions of the RPA "have served to sow division and create uncertainty during a critical period that could define the future of professional rugby in the UK".

"Player welfare is of high priority to the clubs, and our growing concern is that individuals are not receiving appropriate advice at this current time," the statement added.

"For example, the RPA urging players not to negotiate a compromise, privately threatening strike action and publicly opposing reductions without offering any feasible solutions has resulted in a predicament that suits nobody."