The rugby players’ union in Scotland say they were presented with pay cuts as a fait accompli just before they were announced and are “very disappointed” they were unable to make further input into positive discussions about saving cash in rugby’s shutdown.
Rugby Players Scotland (RPS) clarified the comments made on their behalf in an official communique from Murrayfield when the pay cuts were officially announced on Tuesday, a day after the proposals had been presented to them as complete, reportedly only half an hour before they were to be announced to staff.
That communication to staff was thereafter leaked to the BBC in mid-afternoon, before RPS had an opportunity to advise its members of the pat cut proposals.
RPS have no issue with the majority of the plan presented to them by the SRU, but feel they were given no opportunity to comment or suggest alternatives. They revealed that they had been in “positive” discussions with the union for the past two weeks before Monday’s plan was presented to them.
In a statement released clarifying their position, RPS chief executive Bill Mitchell states they had been “very encouraged by the initial level of engagement and transparency of the SRU while working toward a solution.
“RPS’s primary concern is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the sport in Scotland and the careers of our members,” it continues. “We are also determined to maintain the living standards of all players during this difficult time.
“We fully support the need for a reduction of costs to the business during the crisis, in order to best protect all staff and Scottish Rugby at all levels for the future.”
However, RPS remain “very disappointed” the SRU Board’s plan was delivered to them and other stakeholders without the opportunity to comment or to offer any alternatives in advance.
“We acknowledge that the proposed way forward which has been presented to RPS members meets our key requirements, and in relating cuts to income across all employees of the SRU regardless of their role represents a reasonable mechanism for achieving the savings we are told are necessary,” the statement continues.
“Nevertheless, giving RPS the opportunity to contribute would have addressed a number of questions and concerns that our members have raised since Monday’s announcement and saved considerable amounts of time.”
RPS were aware that the potential cancellation of the Autumn Test series will result in a £12 million loss and action was necessary.
“During early discussions with the SRU we expressed our willingness to consider all reasonable options but with two critical requirements: that RPS members would be subject to the same actions as all employees of the SRU regardless of their status or role within the organisation, and the interests of the lowest paid players be protected above all.”
Meanwhile, it appears that attempts by leading Scottish rugby clubs to convince SRU President Dee Bradbury to disband a Task Force aimed at reviewing the governance of the game in Scotland have fallen on deaf ears.
Nearly 40 clubs – including eight Premiership outfits and a number from the National Leagues – signed a letter last week asking that the group formed by the President in March be disbanded to allow a full review involving member clubs.
Bradbury formed the Task Force after the near unanimous rejection of the proposals put forward by Sir Bill Gammell and Norman Murray after their own six-month review.
The club’s letter is not referred to in a communication sent to member clubs this week, other than the Task Force are “considering and addressing feedback from the clubs voiced to council members.
“The Task Force is committed to keeping the interests of the clubs at the centre of discussions,” adds the communication. “We appreciate that this process may take some time but all members are willing to dedicate the necessary hours to ensure any recommendations are carefully considered, discussed and full informed.”
The Task Force has met by conference call and consensus has been reached on a number of key topics, the communication adds.
“Any recommendations will be subject to full consultation with Scottish Rugby’s clubs and other relevant stakeholders,” it adds.
The SRU Council’s Midlands Region representative Hazel Swankie, of Dunfermline RFC, has joined the Task Force as a replacement for Adam Gray, who died suddenly at the end of last month.