New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association (NZRPA) have announced today that 50 per cent of forecasted player payments for most Kiwi professionals - including at Super Rugby level, the All Blacks, the national sevens programmes and Black Ferns - will be frozen.
The move is part of the NZR's ongoing efforts to remain financially stable during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought the sporting world to a standstill and already forced all NZR staff to take a 20 per cent pay cut.
"Like most businesses, people are your greatest asset, and our staff and players are most certainly our number one priority," NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.
"We wanted to come up with solutions that worked for all our players and ensured that all sectors of our game were sharing in the financial pain we are currently enduring."
NZRPA boss Rob Nichol acknowledged the most important thing for players in making the decision was ensuring the long-term future of the sport.
"In contemplating a scenario based on no professional rugby in 2020, NZR and the NZRPA together recognised the need to act now to prepare the game and the players for this, even if there is every intention of doing all we can to avoid it," Nichol said.
"As a result, we have agreed to immediately freeze approximately $25 million, or 50 per cent, of the remaining forecasted player spend in 2020.
"In the event that this financial scenario eventuates, the frozen payments and benefits would become waived permanently. Alternatively, if professional rugby can resume and the financial outlook improves, then some of the frozen payments and benefits could be reinstated."
The expenditure freeze covers the base salary of players, assembly payments and other financial benefits and incentives, as well as reductions in player-funded welfare and development activities.
Nichol said in addition to consulting with players, they have also ensured there will be access to advice and support so they can act now to best manage the implications of these changes.
"Moving forward, the players remain committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the game survives and is best placed to take advantage of the opportunity to get back up and running as soon as is safely possible."
Robinson added everyone was putting their best foot forward for when the sport could kick off again.
"The players signalled their desire to play their part right from the get-go and the conversations over the past few weeks have been very constructive. It was vital the sport was ready for whenever we can get back on the field," Robinson said.
Nichol said they were still working with NZR and Provincial Unions on what would happen with Provincial Union contracts.