Players association “extremely disappointed” at rushed conclusion to salary talks

RPS chief executive Bill Mitchell is broadly supportive of the proposals in principle but frustrated that he was not given an opportunity to contribute to the details of the plan

Bill Mitchell is interim chief executive of Rugby Players Scotland. Image: © Craig Watson -
Bill Mitchell is interim chief executive of Rugby Players Scotland. Image: © Craig Watson -

THE chief executive of RPS, the association which represents the 157 centrally contracted players in Scotland, is “extremely disappointed” with the way that previously constructive discussions around how salaries will be impacted by the coronavirus lockdown were rushed to a conclusion by the SRU on Monday morning.

Bill Mitchell says that the membership understand that the challenges presented by the pandemic mean that a reduction in the Union’s salary commitments is necessary, and that they are prepared to share the burden, but he is frustrated that he did not have an opportunity to clarify several key issues about how the scheme will work before the announcement was made.

The salary cuts which were revealed earlier this week require an amendment to the players’ contracts and it is possible that some may refuse the proposals, although Mitchell is hopeful that they will see the bigger picture of helping ensure the long term sustainability of the sport in Scotland and protecting jobs. Time is of the essence as the SRU’s April pay run is next week.

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The fact that details of the deal were leaked and appeared on the BBC website before the players had been fully briefed on what they are being asked to sign-up to has not helped the situation.

“Along with all other national player associations, RPS is very concerned about the uncertainty surrounding our sport,” said Mitchell. “We have worked hard over the last few weeks to find ways of achieving long term sustainability of employment for our members without impacting on incomes, however we now acknowledge that the growing difficulty of implementing a realistic timetable for restarting global competition makes that goal impossible to achieve.

“While extremely disappointed that despite co-operating closely with the SRU we were not given the opportunity of contributing to the details of what is proposed, we acknowledge that the actions announced on Monday by the SRU represent a reasonable way to protect the long-term employment of our membership while addressing the immediate financial challenges facing the sport in Scotland.”

A statement issued by RPS yesterday clarified its broadly supportive position on the SRU’s new approach, adopted after it became clear that the previous policy of pay deferrals was going to be insufficient.

“RPS’s primary concern is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the sport in Scotland and the careers of our members. We are also determined to maintain the living standards of all players during this difficult time.

“We were very encouraged by the initial level of engagement and transparency of the SRU while working toward a solution.

“As an organisation and player group 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, despite this, we are very disappointed that the proposal offered on Monday by the SRU’s Board was presented to us 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.

“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.

“The commercial challenges facing the professional game are global. As a member of the Executive of International Rugby Players, RPS is party to the issues facing other countries and the resulting impact on international competition, a key source of income to the SRU.  We are aware that should the Autumn Tests not take place this will result in a £12 million loss of revenue so clearly action needed to be taken in the short term to address the financial challenges facing the SRU.

“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.”

Governance Task Force presses on despite concerns

About David Barnes 3995 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Yet another PR disaster by the SRU!
    Everyone below executive level needs to realise that as long as those at the top remain things are unlikely to change at Murrayfield.
    The Gammell Murray review was rejected then a number of clubs suggested the task force should be suspended but it still goes ahead.The SRU top brass appear to be intent to go on as long as it takes to get things the way they want it!

  2. Im shocked!

    Scottish Rugby creates situation where a group of employees are dragooned into a solution. Where have I seen that before? Oh yes several SRU meetings.

    I’m sure it’s purely coincidental that Tom English published the leak on salary cuts. Then Tom English has an interview with Mark Dodson who starts to plant the picture of how bad things are and could be.

    But we were told that the SRU is such a strong business that we didn’t have to follow the leads set by Wales and England.

  3. My mum works in the bars at Murrayfield as a second job and she has not received a penny since the start of this crisis. If it is true that players are on these kind of reductions and have a real problem with that then I would suggest they show some kind of solidarity and empathy to the other workers (you have to earn 100,00k before you get a reduction of 20%, which is what furloughed, minimum wage employees may receive). Can we have an announcement on non playing staff and how much they are being paid? Will the players stand with them?

    I have to say that it is pretty disgusting at the moment.



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