Rugby players in Ireland agree to short-term pay cuts amid coronavirus crisis

Munster pair Andrew Conway and Peter O'Mahony are among the Ireland players who will be taking pay cuts
The postponement of Ireland's home Six Nations game against Wales is estimated to have cost the IRFU around £5m

Rugby players in Ireland have agreed to take short-term pay cuts because of the coronavirus crisis.

An Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) statement said the country's players body had accepted "a payment deferral model for all employees".

The pay cuts, which the IRFU said it hoped would end as soon as possible, will come into effect in April.

"The IRFU and the provinces are facing some daunting financial challenges," said IRFU chief Philip Browne.

Ireland's final two games in the Six Nations, including the home match against Italy, had to be postponed with some estimates suggesting that the calling off of the Italy contest cost the IRFU about £5m.

Provinces hit by suspension of Pro14

All four Irish provinces are currently out of action after the indefinite suspension of the Pro14, while it remains to be seen when or if the European Champions Cup quarter-finals involving Leinster and Ulster will take place.

The IRFU said it would aim to "return to full pay, and repay any deferrals, as soon as possible".

It said the cuts would be based on an "equitable sliding scale which ranges from 10% to 50%" and would be subject to constant review of the financial circumstances of the IRFU and the provinces.

"We are entering uncharted waters as the Covid-19 crisis continues to unfold but we remain hopeful that something of this season can be retrieved later in summer," said Browne.

"This is important as the whole game, amateur and professional, is financially dependent on the resumption of the professional tournaments and the revenues that they generate.

"This arrangement will allow Irish Rugby the breathing space required in relation to cash flow that can ensure that when this crisis abates, we still have a business that can deliver for all those that play and love rugby.

"I thank all our partners, Rugby Players Ireland and all our employees for standing with us at this time."

IRFU decision 'necessary'

Rugby Players Ireland chief executive Simon Keogh said his organisation recognised "the need to work with the IRFU with respect to these payment deferrals in light of the current circumstances".

"All endeavours have been made to contact those affected on an individual basis," said McKeogh.

"Our members appreciate that such moves are necessary in order to protect the future of the game in this country.

"The health and safety of the public is the priority at this time. We will continue to work with the IRFU as this situation develops."

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