The RFU and RPA today confirmed a new elite player squad agreement for England men's international players during the 2020/21 season.
As a result of the challenges posed by COVID-19, a one-year arrangement has been reached with the players accepting a 25% reduction in remuneration compared to the previous year. Under the terms of the new agreement the RFU has made firm commitments around a range of player welfare initiatives with ongoing management of the player welfare process and clearly defined rest periods.
These include a one-week break after the Italy v England Guinness Six Nations match on 31 October and, post England autumn matches, two weeks to be taken with their clubs, as well as the cancellation of a New Year camp and a week off during the Six Nations to replace a fallow week camp.
In addition, the RFU has confirmed they will officially partner with Restart - the charity of the RPA and players – which provides financial, practical and emotional support to professional players and their families who have suffered injury, illness or hardship.
RFU Chief Executive Bill Sweeney said: “I would like to thank the players and the RPA for their strong co-operation and collaboration which has enabled us to reach this new agreement. This is a special squad of players and their appreciation and understanding of the difficulties being faced across the English game has led to this outcome.
“We are committed to ensuring the RFU runs a sustainable operation to safeguard the future of the game in England and are grateful to the England international playing group for their willingness to accept a reduction in fees over the next 12 months to support this. We are committed to looking after their wellbeing during this challenging period of fixtures”
Jamie George, England & Saracens, said: “The playing group wanted to address some concerns around welfare and rest for the EPS and we are encouraged by the progress made by all stakeholders. We fully understand the pressures around the next 12 months both on and off the pitch, so it was vital for us to agree these provisions going forward.”
Gaia Bursell, RPA Head of Commercial & Team England said: “The Team England Rugby Player Committee and Captain Owen Farrell have been outstanding in recognising the financial challenges of COVID and collaborating with the RFU to agree this one year extension.
In this Agreement cycle we sought to address key welfare elements and significant progress continues to be made around the individual wellbeing of our leading players, which is very positive.”
Damian Hopley, RPA Chief Executive added: “The RPA would like to place on record our thanks to the RFU for their collaboration in agreeing to this extension. It is a very challenging time for rugby in England but the EPS and RPA are very grateful this process has been conducted in good faith throughout despite these trying circumstances.”