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RPA chairman warns of ‘significant legal dispute’ if union’s input to salary cap plans continues to be shunned

Harlequins prop and RPA chairman Mark Lambert

The Rugby Players Association (RPA) have warned Premiership clubs and league organisers PRL a ‘significant legal dispute’ could loom if they continue to make changes to the salary cap without duly consulting players.

On Monday, Premiership clubs voted by majority to lower the current cap threshold of £7m to £6m in a measure to combat the huge losses arising from the postponement of the 2019-20 season.

A decision which players are far from happy with, with a vast majority of the player base having already agreed to take a 25 per cent pay cut to ease the financial burden on clubs.

As Premiership finalises the changes to the salary cap, the RPA slammed leaders around the league for ‘absolute disregard’ of their players.

RPA chairman Mark Lambert said: “Most of the players have already had temporary 25% pay cuts since March and April as a result of the unprecedented financial challenges exposed by COVID-19.

“PRL have been seeking agreement to reduce players’ wages permanently by 25% across all PRL clubs. This was unanimously rejected by the Players’ Board.

“The RPA have been working diligently over the last 12 weeks to seek to avoid a repeat of the damaging situation the game found itself in when the clubs imposed temporary wage cuts on a unilateral basis in mid-March.

“This latest situation could have been entirely avoided with a collaborative and transparent approach and we now find ourselves heading towards a significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently.

“In the meantime, the RPA position remains unequivocal: the RPA is opposed to permanent cuts for our members.

“From the outset of this crisis there has been an absolute disregard for the players and the values of the game.

“Players at some clubs are now being served with ultimatums and being put under undue pressure to sign amended contracts through the manufactured deadline of June 18th. To be clear, this is a totally unacceptable way to operate.

“Players are the lifeblood of the game and should be treated with respect. Players should not engage with this approach. The RPA will continue to fight for our members throughout this crisis.”

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