England rugby players accept 25% pay cut amid pandemic

LONDON (AP) — England’s men’s international rugby players have accepted a 25% wage reduction for the 2020-21 season as a result of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Rugby Football Union said Saturday.

Head coach Eddie Jones already agreed to a 25% pay cut in March.

“This is a special squad of players,” RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said, “and their appreciation and understanding of the difficulties being faced across the English game has led to this outcome.”

As part of a new agreement between the RFU and the Rugby Players’ Association, a commitment has been made around a range of player-welfare initiatives, with ongoing player management and clearly defined rest periods.

These include a one-week break after the rescheduled Six Nations match against Italy in Rome on Oct. 31, and two weeks off after England’s autumn internationals. There will be no New Year training camp, while players will have a week off during the Six Nations instead of staying in the training camp.

“The playing group wanted to address some concerns around welfare and rest for the EPS (elite player squad),” England hooker Jamie George said, “and we are encouraged by the progress made.”

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